My lush shakshuka
I’ve passed my mid-twenties. While I mostly find ageing delightful, one thing has happened that irrefutably stinks (and we could argue about whether or not it has to do with age): My body doesn’t wake up hungry anymore.
My only morning craving is coffee (and good luck trying to converse with me before I’ve had my black gold). Not even the sweet-smelling pineapple currently in our fruit bowls tempts me. Not soft-scrambled eggs with fried tomatoes and fresh basil. Not full-cream yoghurt with honey and roasted nuts. Not French toast, nor pancakes.
So, brinner is my consolation. I bring the breakfast magic to dinner.
Eggs and tomatoes together are one of life’s sweetest pleasures. Below my recipe for Shakshuka – a breakfast that holds many of my favourite pleasures in one plate. For brinner purposes (and also for simple deliciousness and because I’ve inexplicably been craving aubergine lately) I add red kidney beans and cubed aubergine.
The sauce is slow-cooked, flavourful. A softly-poached yolk completes a lush meal.
Enough for about 4 people
This is my rather decadent version, and of course it can be edited in many ways. You could lose the aubergine and beans. Mix up the herbs and spices. Add more greens (spinach, yum) at the end. Serve with rocket. Serve with different cheese. I’ve heard stories of serving this in a bowl lined with hummus. Can you imagine that bliss?
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 fresh and frim aubergine, cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons (30ml) tomato paste
1 tablespoon (15ml) ground cumin
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 big chilli, seeds removed (unless you like it haaat) and chopped
a good glug of red wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
1 star anise
any leftover red wine you have bobbing around
2 can whole, peeled tomato
1 can red kidney beans
1 teaspoon (5ml) sugar
some free-range eggs
Bread for serving (toast, halved paninis or ciabatta)
Zatar for sprinkling (if you have it. If you don’t, you should get some. It is the best)
Feta for serving if you have it (we had some goat’s cheese in the fridge and the combination was, frankly, paradisical
Fresh parsley/basil/thyme (whatever combination you have)
- Heat up a glug of olive oil (or whatever oil) in a medium- large saucepan till hot and fry the onion over medium-high heat until it starts to soften. Add the garlic and aubergine and fry until it is all browned.
- Add the tomato paste, cumin, cayenne pepper and chilli and fry just a little – until you can smell the cumin.
- Add the vinegar (it should hiss), and then the bay leaf, star anise, canned tomato, sugar and beans. Add half a cup of red wine if you have some at hand, and at least half a tin (use a tomato tin) of water. You want the sauce to be thick, but not too chunky so that it can hold a poached egg alter. While it cooks, break up the whole tomatoes with a spoon. Allow to simmer over medium-low heat for at least half an hour. The longer, the more luxurious. Add more water if it cooks down too much. I like to remove my sauce from the stovetop and blend it a little bit at this point, with a hand blender. I only blend about half it, which makes it creamy and voluptuous but not too smooth.
- Break eggs into individual or cups (you can put two in one cup if someone is having two – in fact, those who didn’t ask for two eggs last night regretted it), but the point is that you don’t want to break the egg straight in.
- Make sure the sauce is simmering gently and that it tastes delicious. Taste and season with salt. Now hold the cup right at the surface of the sauce, and slip the egg/eggs in, one bowl at a time, spaced out across the saucepan.
- Put the lid on and poach for about 10 minutes (the time really depends on how hot your sauce is. Check every now and then, until the white is no longer translucent. You can give the yolk a gentle poke to make sure it’s still wobbly (unless you like hard-poached eggs).
- While the eggs poach, ready your toast. I did paninis under the grill until browned. Drizzle with your good olive oil and sprinkle some zatar over if you have.
- Now use a large spoon to scoop eggs and sauce over your bread. Sprinkle with fresh herbs (I like a parsley and basil combo – it’s appropriately robust) and goats cheese. Grind some black pepper over. Now, gush.
PS. Sorry for the rhyming, I couldn’t resist.