So I’m writing again, a week late but fully caffeinated. As I mentioned last Sunday, I had to extend my vacation during the first week of October. Sadly, my grandfather passed away while I was at home. He had been in the intensive care unit for about four or five days before I started vacation. I got to see him Sunday, Oct. 2. He was very thin, and his voice was quiet and stretched, but he still had those twinkling blue eyes, wide smile and warm hands.
He passed away Tuesday, Oct. 4. As sad as I and my family have been at his passing, we know we were lucky to have had him with us this long. Three years ago his doctors said he had maybe six months. Clearly they had not had many hardy Scandinavian patients. We come from strong stock.
That being said, I think my grandpa would have liked Shakshuka, a common Mediterranean breakfast dish of eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce. I use the term “Mediterranean” because several countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea fiercely claim the dish as their own. I first stumbled on the recipe from Smitten Kitchen and was intrigued. A little web surfing and dozens of recipes later, the answer to who owns the “truest” Shakshuka formula is still a mystery to me.
Regardless of its ancestry, Shakshuka is universally loved for a simple reason: it is flipping amazing. And this is coming from a girl who, up until recently, refused to eat eggs that were not scrambled or hard-boiled. Those were my options. Now, to be frank, runny yolks still kind of scare me a little bit, but with enough Shakshuka I think I could broaden my horizons.
In my search for a sturdy, simple recipe, each one was made to serve four to six people and needed fresh hot chiles, which, sadly, are not in my kitchen at the moment. With some heavy improvisation, tweaks and flashes of genius I have made my own variation on Shakshuka that serves one to two people, depending on appetite. In nearly all the blog posts I read about Shakshuka, everyone seemed to agree that despite being a popular breakfast/brunch dish, Shakshuka is enjoyed at any hour of the day.
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1, 14.5 or 15 oz., can diced tomatoes (I used a 14.5 oz can of Hunt’s diced tomatoes with no added salt)
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
2 green cardamom pods, cracked with the side of a knife (optional)
1 Tbs. sriracha or “rooster” sauce, more if you like it spicier
1 tsp. dried parsley
salt to taste
toasted rye bread or pita to serve
1. Heat oil over medium heat in 10 inch skillet or frying pan. Soften onions in the oil until translucent, about six to eight minutes. Add the cumin, coriander, a pinch of salt and sriracha. Cook for a minute and then add the garlic. Cook for another two to three minutes and then add the can of diced tomatoes with the juice. Add the cardamom if using.
2. Simmer the tomato broth for 10 to 15 minutes. Sauce will thicken. Taste to see if you want to add more salt or sriracha. Before you add the eggs, remove the cardamom pods and discard if you used them. Crack the eggs into the tomato sauce. Simmer until eggs are done to your satisfaction. Serve warm on toasted rye bread or pita. I served mine with sharp cheddar cheese on the side and some greek yogurt with raspberries and honey.
After making this I understand why most recipes call for four or more servings, because people will want seconds. I ate both eggs, and still have some of the spicy tomato sauce/chutney left over. I am very full. Shakshuka may sound like a sneeze (hence the post title), but it deserves a place in your breakfast/brunch repertoire.