Friday, January 20, 2012

Shakshuka

A few months ago I added a new cookbook to my collection; Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. Yotam is an Israeli-born chef and restaurant owner currently living in London and has written a wonderful vegetarian cookbook with a "vibrant" approach to vegetables.

I've been slowly working my way through many of the recipes, and my favorite so far was Shakshuka. It is a North African dish with many variations. Some add preserved lemon, others, feta and different herbs and spices. I didn't add any of these and it was still fantastic!
PHOTO: JONATHAN LOVEKIN
                                                                                                                   
Shakshuka
Serves 4 generously 
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
3/4 cup light olive oil or vegetable oil
2 large onions
2 red bell peppers, cut into 3/4-inch strips
2 yellow bell peppers, cut into 3/4-inch strips
4 tsp muscovado sugar (I used regular sugar)
2 bay leaves
6 thyme sprigs, leaves picked and chopped
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp chopped cilantro (I left this out since I don't like the taste of cilantro)
6 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp saffron  threads (I left this out too--so expensive)!
pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and black pepper
up to 1 1/8 cups water
8 eggs


In a very large pan dry-roast the cumin seeds on high heat for 2 minutes. Add the oil and onions and saute for 5 minutes. Add the peppers, sugar and herbs and continue cooking on high heat for 5 to 10 minutes to get a nice color.

Add the tomatoes, saffron, cayenne and some salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. During the cooking keep adding water so that the mix has a pasta sauce consistency. Taste and adjust the seasoning. It should be potent and flavorful. (You can prepare this mix well in advance).

Remove the bay leaves, then divide the pepper mix among four deep frying pans, each large enough to take a generous individual portion. Place them on medium heat to warm up, then make two gaps in the pepper mix in each pan and carefully break an egg into each gap. Sprinkle with salt and cover the pans with lids. Cook on a very gentle heat for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the eggs are just set. Sprinkle with cilantro (I used parsley) and serve.


Enjoy!

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