Shake it up with Shakshouka!

by Zehorit Heilicher, Tastemaker in Residence

Mid-winter humdrum got you down? Tired of the same boring flavors? Put together this quick, flavorful and satisfying “wake me up” Middle Eastern meal and kiss your winter blues goodbye!

The secret? Tender eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce, warm with cumin, paprika and more; ready to be scooped up with fresh pita or crunchy bread. This dish is so popular throughout Israel for an easy breakfast or a light dinner, that Tel Aviv even boasts a restaurant dedicated solely to this dish: Dr. Shakshouka.

Start by cooking your garlic (and onions, if using) with the olive oil and spices, add your pureed tomatoes (fresh or canned) and simmer until somewhat thickened. Then gently slide raw cracked eggs into the sauce; add your choice of topping, cover and finish cooking on the stovetop or in a hot oven. Beginning to finish – no more than 25-30 minutes. Add a side salad, some good bread, or if going the traditional route – some quality hot pita – and dinner is served!

Throughout my childhood my mom & dad have had a Shakshouka dispute. Mom is more of a tomato purist with more delicate flavors from freshly pureed tomatoes with very few spices. Dad loads up his roughly chopped tomatoes with green and red peppers and a heavy dose of heat and spices. Regardless of the approach, on a rainy and damp day, us kids would devour the delicious results with zeal and were grateful for the offering…

Shakshouka’s humble beginnings have been updated in many variations to include additional ingredients such as sautéed vegetables or potatoes, feta cheese, oregano, olives, Mergez lamb sausage and more. The red tomato canvas begs for your creativity to take over and put your personal stamp on this dish. Here are a few delicious recipes to try.

  1. NY Times:
  2. Tory Avey:
  3. Smitten Kitchen:
  4. Yotam Ottolenghi: