When I asked my friends and family for healthy recipe ideas, someone replied “Shakshuka.” After establishing this was the name of a dish and not a badly disguised sneeze, I looked up the ingredients and was immediately impressed. Healthy, tasty, easy, versatile – and a food combiner’s dream protein meal. I’d hit the recipe jackpot.
Shakshuka is a Middle Eastern and North African vegetarian recipe, combining tomatoes, onions, garlic, spices and poached eggs.
Traditionally, it’s eaten for breakfast but could suffice for any meal. And the use of herbs and extra ingredients – in this instance spinach – can be adapted to suit any palate.
The cooking process can be divided into two parts, starting with the sauce (tomatoes, onions, garlic, red pepper and spices), then adding the spinach, eggs and feta, and cooking with a lid on to poach the eggs before serving with chopped coriander.
If frozen spinach is used, cook it through completely in the tomato sauce before adding the eggs and feta. The sauce can therefore be made in advance and reheated on the stove, adding the final ingredients once hot. If the sauce becomes too thick, a little water may be used to thin it.
Preparation and cooking time: 40 minutes
Serves: 4-6 people. Use one egg per person
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 medium sized onions, chopped (red onions can also be used)
2 large red (or yellow) peppers, cut into long slices and halved
2 x 400g tins of tomatoes
Chopped spinach (frozen spinach can also be used)
1 small hot chilli (if you like it spicy!)
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp sweet paprika
2 tsp cumin (optional)
1/2 tsp caraway seeds (optional)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
200g feta cheese, crumbled
Coriander leaves, chopped (optional)
8 tbsp thick natural yoghurt (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Chop all the ingredients as recommended above
2. Heat the olive oil in a large, lidded frying pan. Add the onions and peppers. Cook on a medium heat until just softened
3. Add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes
4. Sprinkle in the paprika and (if used) the chilli, cumin, caraway seeds and cayenne pepper. Add the tomatoes with a splash of water. Simmer for 10 minutes uncovered until the contents have reduced a little. The texture shouldn’t be too runny but mustn’t get too dry. Add another splash of water if necessary
5. When the sauce is reduced, add the spinach and cook until it wilts (or cooks through, if frozen)
6. Make some wells in the sauce for the eggs. Break an egg into a cup and drop carefully into a well, and repeat with the remaining eggs, then sprinkle over the crumbled feta. Cook for a few more minutes until the egg whites are just set and the yolks are still runny. Sprinkle over the chopped coriander (if used)
7. Serve, ensuring one egg per person (with the option of some yogurt on the side)