Recipe: Shakshuka

A delightfully spicy tomato treat

By Sophie Isbister, Life & Style Editor

Shakshuka is basically blowing up as a food right now. Foodie bloggers and magazines are talking about and sharing various recipes for this super simple Israeli dish that features egg, tomato, and onion. It’s little wonder why: once you try this epic-yet-easy mess of eggs poached in a spiced tomato sauce, there’s no going back.

I thought I would share my shakshuka story, because this hearty yet straightforward dish always reminds me of happier times. In the summer of 2007 I lived in a shared house in Vancouver. We had a slew of rotating house guests, who would come in and gift us with useful treats like flats of mango juice, organic toiletries, and a didgeridoo. It was basically a hippie hotel, and my favourite gift ever was the gift of knowledge—the knowledge of shakshuka.

My friend Mark stayed with us for a few weeks, between school and a vacation. He schooled me in the ways of this dish, specifying that it worked best with the stewed tomatoes with sugar in the ingredients, and that the onions needed to be sliced just the right way (stringy), and the spices needed to be perfect, and you could leave the sauce simmering on the stove even while you ran to the Hasty Market to get eggs if you didn’t have them—I didn’t really approve of that last tip.

Because I’m a recipe gal, I turned to probably the most legit source for the shakshuka recipe I use—the Israeli embassy in the UK. The slightly modified directions to feed three or four are as follows:

Heat up the oil in a deep cast-iron skillet while you prep everything (note: this works for one in a small saucepan or small cast-iron, just scale down the rest of the ingredients). Open the cans of tomatoes. Peel and slice the onion julienne (check YouTube for tutorials if you don’t already know this great skill). Mince the garlic. Mix all your spices together in a small bowl.

Once everything is assembled and ready, sauté the onions in the oil until clear (about two minutes), then add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Let it come to a simmer and then add your spices. You may want to experiment with the spices until you find what works, but the recipe is good (I scale back the cayenne because I’m a spice-wuss).

Once the sauce is simmering, crack the eggs gently over it, keeping them in their own sections. Cover the pan with a lid (or a plate if you’re a lid-loser like me), and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes depending on your softness preference. If you know you like your eggs runny, you can let the sauce simmer and reduce for a bit longer before you put the eggs in.

Garnish, serve with your choice of bread, and enjoy!

You will need:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow or white onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium green or red bell pepper, chopped
2 cans (14 oz. each) diced tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp chilli powder (mild)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
Pinch of sugar (optional, to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste
5-6 eggs
1/2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley (optional, for garnish)