Ideas for playing with your shakshuka kit + a little history
by Kara Elder
August 25, 2020
Have you ordered a shakshuka kit from Little Sesame + The Farm at Sunnyside? It contains fixings to make enough shakshuka for three hungry people, or even more if you serve it with sides. (Try Little Sesame's hummus or use eggplant from your veggie boxes or bags to make baba ganoush! Serve it with pita or palladin rolls! Make a salad! Always add kraut.)
You'll find variations in the style of shakshuka around the Middle East and North Africa — in Yemen, for example, it's common to serve it as a scrambled egg dish, rather than runny-yolked. It's such an ideal formula to play around with and vary according to ingredients you've got and what's in season. In the height of summer, char some eggplant on the grill or over an open flame, then scoop out its flesh and add it to your fresh tomato sauce. In the spring, make it green with lots of kale, chard, watercress, spinach, etc; grate in a few summer squash in early summer. And in the winter, when you want to remember how great tomato season is, make it with canned tomatoes; add warming spices like allspice and cumin. Add roasted potatoes! Add mushrooms! Add winter squash! I've even fortified it with a few ripe plantains, caramelized in oil and then cut into smaller chunks before going into the tomato sauce. If you're not keeping it vegetarian, chorizo or another type of sausage would be tasty, too. As for other seasonings, try harissa, preserved lemons, your favorite hot sauce... really any spice or herb that goes with tomatoes and eggs would do.
It's generally agreed that shakshuka originated in the Ottoman Empire (specifically, perhaps, in what is now Tunisia), even before New World crops like tomatoes and peppers arrived sometime after 1519, when Hernán Cortés encountered them in what is now Mexico (around the time that he also caused the fall of the Aztec empire and helped Spain colonize the Americas). It is, as Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi write in their 2012 book Jerusalem, "hugely popular in Jerusalem and all over Israel as substantial breakfast or lunch fare."
Here's the recipe included in the kit; check out the Number 1 Sons Instagram story to see it all come together. As always, treat this more like a guide and less like a set of rules. Recipes are made to be tinkered with! Taste as you go, adjust as needed, and you'll end up with something that you love.
- 3 sweet peppers
- 1 spicy pepper
- 3 medium tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 2 small onions
- Salt, as needed
- Little Sesame shakshuka paste
- 6 eggs
- Little Sesame tahini sauce, for serving
- Fresh herbs, for serving
- Clean Kraut + Chili Bear, for serving
- Bread, for serving
1. Roast or grill the peppers.
If using your oven, place them on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees for 40-60 minutes, turning every 20 minutes, until evenly charred and collapsed. (Smaller peppers will take less time.)
If using a gas burner, turn it on to medium-high and balance the peppers directly over the flame, rotating every few minutes until charred on all sides. (You’re playing with fire, pay attention and use tongs!) You can also use an outdoor grill.
Once the peppers are charred, put them in a bowl, cover with a plate, and let steam while you continue.
2. Prep the tomatoes. Core the tomatoes and score a small “X” on the other end. Put in boiling water for 15 seconds, then remove, cool slightly, and peel off the skins. Squeeze the water and seeds out so you just have the tomato flesh.
----> For a more rustic vibe, simply core and roughly chop the tomatoes, skin, seeds, and all. You’ll need to cook the sauce a little longer (to evaporate excess liquid), but it’ll still taste great.
3. Cook the sauce. Set a big oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat and drizzle in the oil. While the oil is heating, chop the onions, then add them to the skillet. Season with a pinch of salt and cook until starting to brown on the edges and almost turn translucent, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the Little Sesame shakshuka paste and cook for 2 minutes, to caramelize the paste. Add the tomatoes and cook (still over medium-high heat) until soft and saucy, about 10 minutes. Mash up the tomatoes with the back of a spoon as they cook.
While the tomatoes are cooking, peel, stem, and seed the peppers (which should be cool enough to handle now). Chop and add them to the tomatoes. Once the sauce is thick (not too watery), taste and add more salt if you’d like.
4. Add the eggs! Use the back of a spoon and create six pockets in the sauce; crack an egg into each pocket, then season the eggs with salt. Put in a 375-degree oven for about 10 minutes OR cover the skillet and cook on the stovetop over medium heat for about 8 minutes, until the whites are set and the yolks are jammy.
----> If you’re making one serving, transfer some of the cooked sauce to a small skillet and cook on the stove top.
5. Serve with tahini sauce, herbs, and Clean Kraut. Dash on some of your favorite Chili Bear for a little extra spice. Don’t forget bread to soak up all the sauce!
Keep any leftover sauce for up to 3 or so days in the refrigerator.