- Melissa Pasanen
- Shakshuka of tomatoes, yellow pepper and radish greens with poached eggs
Eggs are a must-have for me, as they are apparently for several local chefs and food pros interviewed about their pandemic pantries. Even in normal times, I need at least a dozen eggs in my fridge or I feel bereft. Since I'm shopping less frequently, I now start to get anxious when there are fewer than two cartons. (And there are only two of us in the house.) Luckily, I have had no trouble finding local eggs at farmstands, stores and even delivered to my door.
Beyond their critical contributions to baked goods, eggs are an incredibly versatile, high-quality protein source, relatively inexpensive and comforting for many people. They also keep a long time. From spaghetti carbonara to fried rice to huevos rancheros, eggs turn basic pantry staples or leftovers into a meal the world over. There's a reason #Putaneggonit has more than 120,000 posts on Instagram.
- Melissa Pasanen
- Eggs from Sobremesa in Charlotte bought at Last Resort Farm in Monkton
There are a zillion variations out there. Chef and cookbook author Einat Admony calls it "Cinderella in a skillet" in her cookbook Shuk: From Market to Table, the Heart of Israeli Home Cooking (Artisan, 2019). She offers three recipes for it: a classic tomato made with red pepper and eggplant; a Yemenite version with coconut milk and preserved lemon; and a green shakshuka with chard, kale, spinach and feta.
My shakshuka varies with whatever I have on hand. I always start with onion, bell pepper and tomatoes before throwing in any leftover cooked vegetables (from diced roasted squash to mushrooms) and whatever leafy green I have on hand. It's a great way to use up limp greens after refreshing them in cool water. (See photos below of radish greens before and after a 30-minute soak.)
- Melissa Pasanen
- Radish greens before (left) and after a cool soak
Shakshuka was one of the first recipes our younger son, Alex, cooked for himself (not counting Annie's mac and cheese). When I asked for his tips, he texted me, "The longer you cook it, the more tasty it is."
ShakshukaMakes 4 servings
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 1 medium onion, halved and sliced
- 1 large red, orange or yellow bell pepper, cored and sliced into thin strips
- 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cumin, or sweet or smoked paprika
- ½ cup chopped parsley, cilantro or scallion greens, plus more to garnish, optional
- 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste
- Pinch cayenne, plus more to taste
- Small bunch chard, kale, spinach or other greens, sliced into ribbons
- 1½ cups cooked chickpeas or white beans, or diced, cooked sweet potato or winter squash, optional
- 4 to 8 eggs
- ½ cup crumbled feta, fresh goat cheese or shredded cheddar
- In a medium (or large if using all 8 eggs) skillet set over medium-high heat, add oil, onion and pepper. Sauté for 7 to 9 minutes until softened and peppers are starting to color.
- Reduce heat to medium. Add sugar, cumin or paprika, and herbs, if using. Stir to combine. Cook for a couple minutes.
- Stir in tomatoes and a ½ cup or so of water swirled in the empty tomato can to get all the tomato goodness out. Add 1 teaspoon salt and pinch of cayenne. Stir in greens. Reduce heat to low and simmer, about 12 to 15 minutes, stirring a couple times. Taste and add more salt or cayenne as desired. (Flavor will intensify as you continue to cook, as Alex pointed out.)
- Increase heat to medium. Stir in chickpeas, beans or cooked sweet potato or squash, if using, and cook about 5 to 7 minutes until they are warmed through.
- Reduce heat to low. Use a large spoon to make well-spaced, individual depressions in the tomato mixture and crack eggs carefully into each hole. Season eggs with salt and more cayenne, as desired.
- Cover pan and cook eggs until done to your liking, about 8 minutes for just set and more for harder cooked eggs. Immediately sprinkle with cheese and additional chopped herbs, if using.
- Serve hot straight from the pan into shallow bowls with crusty bread on the side.