Delicious Shakshuka. A perfectly-spiced one-skillet North African meal of nestled baked eggs in tomatoes. Nutritious and beautiful. Breakfast/Brunch/Lunch.
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Shakshuka Recipe – Inspired by Travel
This Shakshuka recipe is inspired by my love of North Africa… From a time when travel was easy and life took me wherever I wanted to go. To places full of history and culture… and of nature and difference… Where music tickled the ears with new interest… The aromatic wafts of spices infused the air with promise… And the locals entertained with bartering pleas to buy their wares.
Travel has been a part of my life for 40 years. A passion that has taken me to parts of the world and moments in history that have since changed as the decades have passed. But in each and every country, town and village, the most lasting memories often come from food.
Shakshuka is the food of my time travel… From the bustling backstreet restaurants of Cairo, Luxor and Aswan… To the walled towns and steep streets of Fez and Marrakech and the souks of Tunisia. This dish of eggs and tomatoes is the stuff of foodie remembrance.
What Is Shakshuka?
Shakshuka (pronounced ‘shuck-shoo-kah’ is roughly translated in Arabic to mean ‘all mixed up’. And it is!
Essentially a one-skillet (frying pan) feast, it consists most usually of a rich, spiced base of tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic and herbs (with other veg thrown in as available) and with poached or baked eggs nestled into the surface. It is usual to find some extra tangy feta cheese, tofu, halloumi or hummus sprinkled on top as well.
A Very Brief History of Shakshuka
Shakshuka may have roots in the Ottoman Empire, as a dish without tomatoes and decidedly more meat. However the dish that we have come to love today is of North African origin, later spreading to the Middle East (in particular Israel).
Popularity in the West may well have rocketed by promotion from the famous Yotam Ottolenghi when included in his book Jerusalem. However, it is without doubt its simplicity and sheer deliciousness that has kept it fashionable. It can be found on the brunch menu of many a trendy restaurant in London and New York.
Trendy yes… But Eggs and Tomatoes are also Hearty, Healthy & CheaP
If you live on a tight budget, Shakshuka may turn out to be the perfect meal. Not only are eggs and tomatoes good for you, but they also make a hearty and very inexpensive meal. You can fundamentally feed the family for the price of a couple of tins of chopped tomatoes, some veg and a box of eggs. And it’s really really easy to make! If there are fussy eaters in the house, it’s a straight switch to varying what goes into the skillet and how it’s spiced. Top (or not) with an extra sprinkling of cheese or anything else that takes your fancy and tummies will be full and happy.
Serve the whole dish with good old economical pitta breads or make your own flat breads or gluten free baguette. Alternatively, serve with a more substantial plate of cous cous or quinoa and even baked or mashed potato.
If you’re unsure about cooking Quinoa, Gluten Free Alchemist has a helpful guide to getting it perfectly cooked, every time.
What Type of Eggs Should I Use?
Any! I’ve made Shakshuka with the eggs of hens and ducks and even with goose eggs. The only difference will be the cooking time. The bigger the egg, the longer the time required to poach or bake.
When To Eat Shakshuka
Traditionally, these delicious eggs and tomatoes are served as a breakfast or brunch. But don’t let tradition dissuade you. We’ve eaten Shakshuka as a simple lunch and also as a hearty dinner.
If you have staying guests or brunching friends, a breakfast Shakshuka makes the perfect sharing skillet to wow them… Let’s face it, this pan of loveliness looks so beautiful and appetising.
It would even be a great dish to throw together on a camping trip. All you need (in addition to the ingredients) are a large-enough pan and a sturdy camping stove.
Live alone or just the two of you? Shakshuka can be made for one or many… simply make it in a smaller pan and adjust the quantities of ingredients.
Equipment for Making Shakshuka
You don’t really need any specialist equipment to make Shakshuka, although the following will make your job a little bit easier.
- A good quality heavy-based large skillet or shallow Casserole is really helpful. To oven-bake the eggs, the skillet needs to be totally oven-proof (including the handle).
- Oven Gloves are essential to removing the skillet from the oven once the eggs are baked. But remember to be obsessively careful in remembering that the handle remains stupidly hot after it is out of the oven. We have had way too many burnt hands as a result of inadvertently grabbing the handle after baking!
- A set of measuring spoons comes in useful for measuring the spices for the dish… Although to be fair, it’s just as easy to judge by taste and experience.
- You will chop a good couple of handfuls of fresh herbs when you make Shakshuka. You could just use a bog-standard sharp knife, but I swear by my Mezzaluna. If you have never used a Mezzaluna before, it is a genius curved blade designed for chopping herbs that you simply rock to chop. It makes herb chopping a total breeze.
- A fair amount of garlic gets minced or crushed for this dish too… As a family, we have tried every type of garlic crusher and mincer on the market… If you don’t mind ‘garlic hands’, my husband won’t use anything other than a ceramic Garlic Grater. It is absolutely genius, although I prefer to use a rocking manual crusher…
Let me know if you make my Shakshuka. It makes my day when I hear someone is enjoying and using my recipes. Contact me or tag me on Social Media (Facebook; Instagram; Twitter; Pinterest). And don’t forget to follow me and subscribe using the box below for the latest Gluten Free Alchemist Updates…
If you are looking for other breakfast/brunch inspiration, why not visit my dedicated Breakfast & Brunch Index Page? And for everything else, we have made it as easy as possible with a photographic Categorised Recipe Index…
Shakshuka with Feta
- large skillet (oven-proof including handle) or medium to large paella pan
- Kitchen scales
- sharp vegetable knife
- measuring spoons
- wooden spoon
- large sharp chopping knife or Mezzaluna (herb chopper)
- oven gloves
- good sturdy heat-proof trivet
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 large onions chopped
- 2 red or yellow peppers chopped
- 150 g button or closed cup mushrooms sliced or halved
- ¼ tsp fine sea salt or to taste
- freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cloves garlic (medium to large) minced or crushed
- 4 tbsp concentrated tomato puree (tomato paste)
- 2 tsp ground cumin powder or to taste
- 2½ tsp smoked paprika or to taste
- ¼ to ½ tsp crushed dried chilli flakes or to taste
- 800 g tinned chopped tomatoes (2 x standard 400g tins)
- large handful rough-chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
- large handful rough-chopped fresh parsley
- 5 large eggs (hen or duck) or 2 to 3 goose eggs
- 200 g feta cheese crumbled
- additional fresh coriander and parsley to garnish
- Heat the oven to 190 C/375 F/Gas 5.
- Heat the oil in a skillet (or alternative oven-proof shallow casserole) over a medium heat on the hob.
- When hot, add the chopped onion and peppers to the pan and stir. Cook until the onion is softened (about 5 minutes), stirring occasionally.
- Add the mushrooms and stir through, cooking for a further 3 to 4 minutes
- Add the salt and a good grind of pepper, along with the crushed garlic, tomato puree, cumin, paprika and chilli flakes. Stir well and cook through for a further couple of minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning, until the aromas become pungent and rich.
- Add the tinned tomatoes and stir through thoroughly.
- Add the chopped coriander and parsley, stir through and then bring the whole pan to a simmer, cooking gently for 5 to 6 minutes.
- Taste and adjust seasoning as you wish.
- Give a final stir through and then turn off the heat.
- Depending on the number/size of eggs you are using, make a deepish well for each in the tomato sauce using the back of a spoon.
- Crack the eggs one at a time and carefully drop into each well. With each egg addition, use the back of a spoon to raise the tomato border to contain the egg and prevent from spreading.
- Once all the eggs have been added, place the whole pan carefully in the oven and bake for 10 to 16 minutes depending on the size of the eggs used (for large hens eggs, it will take about 13 minutes to bake). Watch carefully after the first 7 to 8 minutes as you do not want your eggs to overcook. When they are ready, the whites should be opaque and the yolks cooked, but still soft and runny in the centre.
- Once cooked, remove immediately from the oven using a good set of oven gloves. The skillet will be incredibly hot and possibly quite heavy, so be very careful not to burn yourself. Place the pan on a sturdy heat-proof trivet and keep the oven gloves near the handle (it is very easy to forget that it is hot and inadvertently grab the handle).
- Season the top with an extra grind of black pepper and sprinkle the feta over (you may wish to sprinkle half the amount and then place the rest in a small bowl to serve at the plate).
- Garnish with additional coriander and parsley leaves.
- Serve immediately with pitta or flat breads, crusty baguette or even baked or crushed potatoes, cous cous or quinoa.
Shakshuka shared with :
- Cook Blog Share with A Strong Coffee
- Meatless Monday with Confessions of a Mother Runner and A Whisk & Two Wands
- Over The Moon #225 with Marilyn’s Treats & Eclectic Red Barn
- What’s For Dinner #253 with The Lazy Gastronome
- Fiesta Friday #329 with Angie, Of Goats & Greens and Spades, Spatulas & Spoons
- Full Plate Thursday #485 with Miz Helen’s Country Cottage