Chef’s Corner: Shakshuka, an Israeli specialty


May 1 is Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. Celebrate the occasion by making shakshuka, a dish that closely competes with hummus and falafel as an Israeli staple. Originally introduced to Israel by Libyan and Tunisian Jews in the 1950s, shakshuka has since become a favorite for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Israel is truly a melting pot for cuisine and this egg dish with vegetables and spices that can be customized from mild to hot, depending on the origin of the chef, exemplifies this tiny country’s culture. If you can’t experience this savory dish in Israel, don’t fret, you can find shakshuka in many American restaurants as a popular brunch item – or better yet, make it at home.

Yom Huledet Sameach, Israel!

Traditional Shakshuka
Recipe created by Chef Javi Perez

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium brown or white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium green or red bell pepper, chopped
4 cups ripe diced tomatoes, or 2 cans (14 ounces each) diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon chili powder (mild)
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
Pinch of cayenne pepper (or more, for additional heat)
Pinch of sugar (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
5-6 eggs
1/2 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley (optional, for garnish)
Toasted bread or pita

Directions:

Heat a deep, large skillet or sauté pan on medium. Slowly warm olive oil in the pan.
Add chopped onion and sauté for a few minutes until the onion begins to soften. Add garlic and continue to sauté until mixture becomes fragrant.

Add the bell pepper; sauté for 5-7 minutes until softened.

Add tomatoes and tomato paste to pan; stir until blended. Add spices and sugar, stir well and allow mixture to simmer over medium heat for 5-7 minutes until it starts to reduce.

At this point, add salt and pepper to taste, more sugar for a sweeter sauce or more cayenne pepper for a spicier shakshuka.

Crack the eggs, one at a time, directly over the tomato mixture, making sure to space them evenly over the sauce. Place 4-5 eggs around the outer edge and 1 in the center. The eggs will cook “sunny side up” on top of the tomato sauce. (For even more runny egg yolks, let the sauce reduce for a few minutes before cracking the eggs on top.)

Cover the pan and allow mixture to simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked and the sauce has reduced slightly. Make sure that the sauce doesn’t reduce too much because it will burn.

Garnish with the chopped parsley and serve with toasted bread or pita.

Pomelo restaurant, located at 7100 N. 12th St. in Phoenix offers shakshuka as part of their brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am until
4 pm. For more information, call 602-633-2600
or visit pomelophx.com.

Lucia Schnitzer and her husband, Ken, own Pomelo (a full-service restaurant), Luci’s at The Orchard and Splurge (a candy and ice cream shop), all at The Orchard Phx, 7100 N 12th Street, Phoenix. They also own Luci’s Healthy Marketplace, 1590 E Bethany Home Road, Phoenix, which they opened in 2009 in Lucia’s honor after her successful battle with breast cancer.

Photo by Matthew Strauss

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