Israeli Shakshouka; easy to prepare, tasty, healthy, low in calories and a real good food.
From Tel Aviv to Toronto, from New York to Naples and Melbourne to Minnesota, everyone is into the craze and enjoying shakshouka/shakshuka (Hebrew: שקשוקה) eaten for breakfast, lunch or supper. The recipe for shakshouka is easy and you can make many variations of the classic, original recipe.
A well-spiced tomato sauce (Israeli chef, Yotam Ottolenghi suggests making the sauce from fresh tomatoes and tomato paste) combined with sweet red peppers and spices including cumin, chili flakes or harissa, Shakshouka is popular across the Mediterranean and Middle East however, the more modern version, served with baked eggs, originates in Tunisia.
In addition to the spicy tomato sauce, you can make endless variations to the Shakshouka recipe to suit your family's taste buds; sweat some onions and add to the sauce; wilted spinach, feta or halloumi cheese, chorizo or any spicy sausage, or even cubes of boiled potatoes. (Note: according to Jewish dietary laws it is forbidden to eat chorizo - or any meats - with cheese or dairy products)
When served in a restaurant In Israel, Shakshouka is commonly eaten with chunks of Challah (a special sweet loaf of bread eaten on the Jewish Sabbath) to scoop up the tasty sauce and egg.
Shakshouka is low in calories
The nutritional value of Shakshouka; it's healthy, low in calories - around 500 per serving (with 2 eggs), low in carbs and a high dietary fiber content. Most of the calories in shakshouka come from the olive oil used in the recipe. Extra calories and carbs will come from the chorizo, feta or halloumi cheese you might add.
This is Ottolenghi's recipe:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon harissa
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 2 (2 cups / 300 grams) large red peppers, diced in 1/4-inch pieces
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 5 cups (800 grams) very ripe tomatoes, chopped; canned are also fine
- 4 large eggs, plus 4 egg yolks
- 1 pinch salt
- In a large, heavy based, frying pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil and then add the harissa, tomato paste, red peppers, garlic, cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Saute for about 10 minutes, until the peppers soften. Add the tomatoes, bring to a gentle simmer, and cook for another 10 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.
- Make eight little dips in the sauce. Gently break the eggs and carefully pour each int its own dip. Do the same with the yolks, Use a fork to swirl the egg whites a little bit with the sauce, taking care not to break the yolks. Simmer gently for 8 to 10 minutes, until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still running. Remove from the heat, leave for a couple of minutes to settle, then spoon into individual plates
Shakshouka recipe for cheaters
Most of the preparation time for shakshouka comes from sweating the onions and simmering the sauce, so if you can get hold of canned tomatoes and onions or even a ready-to-use shakshouka base (you can get this in Israel), this will cut prep time down by about 15 minutes. Failing canned tomatoes and onions or shakshouka base, tomato paste will do. Remember to add plenty of water to the tomato paste - at least half of it should evaporate during cooking.
Serious foodies might make their own harissa but it you can buy it ready-made, why not?
Shakshouka is traditionally a breakfast food but now its a popular Sunday brunch dish - eat it whenever you can and serve it to a crowd of friends. Daring chefs can adapt the recipe and make a novel shakshouka pizza. Whenever, wherever and however you eat, shakshouka gets our vote as a super food.
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