Hi, have you met shashuka? No? I have a feeling you’re going to become great friends. This spicy middle eastern dish consists of an egg poached in tomato and peppers sauce. This shashuka recipe is healthy (you can’t eat homemade croissants every day!), delicious, and a breeze to make.
This is Jerusalem. One of the most beautiful, culturally rich, contentious, and important places on our planet. I can’t really talk about shashuka without talking about Jerusalem, which is why I didn’t want to write this post. The holy land is such a complicated place and evokes such strong emotions from all sides, regardless of one’s level of familiarity with the subject (in fact, lack of knowledge may be directly correlated with the strength of such feelings). I don’t see this blog as a place to espouse my political, social, or religious beliefs (although I have no problem forcing delicious recipes upon you!) and to be honest, I would rather not think of these things at all. I would rather focus on something I think we can (or should!) all agree on, the region’s amazing food. But it’s impossible. I can’t think about this region without thinking of the people I know who live there. I can’t write about it without remembering the ill informed comments I’ve seen on social media and even church billboards. If you also grow weary just considering the complexities of these issues, and are interested in a seldom heard perspective, I suggest you read this article by my friend Botrus.
I actually didn’t want to write this post so badly, that I came up with a great idea. Cookies. I would make you a batch of delicious almond joy inspired cookies. They would be light hearted and delicious and they wouldn’t remind us of any conflicts. Aaaaand, they would be made with everyone’s little darling, coconut oil! What could be better? I started with the base from my recipe for Chocolate Dipped Orange Sandwich Cookies. I replaced the butter with coconut oil, which apparently is how the internet is doing it these days, but things quickly took at turn for the worse and I suddenly felt like one of those food blog commenters. You know, the ones who replace every ingredient and disregard the instructions entirely, and then complain that the recipe didn’t turn out? First I tried to roll out the dough, but it was a little crumbly. No problem. I would just press it into a log and chill it, then slice and bake the cookies…
Almond joy cookie fail. (Don’t dispair, I will figure it out.) In the mean time, I give you shashuka. My absolute favorite breakfast food from one of my absolute favorite places. I’d be lying if I said that shashuka wasn’t one of the things that nudged us to Jerusalem in the first place. Maybe it’s the familiar tomato-pepper combination that is also so prevalent in Macedonian cooking. Maybe it’s the delicious way the tomato sauce pairs with the creaminess of the egg. All I know is that as soon as we had set down our bags, our first stop in Jerusalem was breakfast, where we ordered this delightful shashuka, served with bread, tahini, yogurt, olives, and tomato salad.
Trust me. You want to make this. We’ve adapted this shashuka recipe a bit to suit the ingredients we usually have on hand, but after you take the plunge, and find yourself developing a close relationship with shashuka, you might want to consider checking out Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s cookbook Jerusalem. If I was stranded on a desert (or maybe dessert?) island, that happened to have a fully equipped kitchen, and got to take only one cookbook, this would be it. It perfectly captures the diversity and deliciousness of Jerusalem’s cuisine in both recipes and photos, and takes up prime real-estate on my cookbook shelf. In addition to an authentic recipe for shashuka, you will find gems such as mejadra, and chocolate babka.
- 2 14-ounce cans of diced, crushed, or whole tomatoes
- 1-2 ripe red bell peppers (chopped)
- 1/2 onion (diced)
- 2-4 cloves garlic (finely chopped, or pressed with a garlic press)
- 4 to 6 eggs (usually 1-2 per person)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
- cayenne or fresh or dried chile pepper to taste (we use about 1/2 teaspoon)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat oil in a wide sturdy pan with ample sides over medium heat.
- Add peppers and onion and cook until soft, about eight minutes.
- Add garlic and stir until fragrant.
- Add tomatoes (if using whole tomatoes, use a fork to crush), paprika, cumin, coriander, and cayenne. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes until tomatoes are tender and heated through.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Using a large spoon, make indentations in the tomato mixture for the eggs.
- Crack one egg into each indentation and sprinkle with salt. Use a fork to gently swirl the whites of the eggs into the tomato sauce (just a little, and be careful not to break the yolks).
- Cover and allow to simmer for 5-6 minutes or until the eggs are cooked according to your preference. (I prefer the yolks a little soft.)