red pepper shakshuka
to blog or not to blog? that is the question which has been buzzing around in my head for months. since moving to frankfurt just over two years ago, my blogging has been intermittent at best and stalled at worst. 2016 has been spectacularly bad but i so want to keep blogging so here i am.
given i’m starting again, let’s start with a breakfast option - shakshuka. to be fair though, this tomato and egg dish is equally delicious for lunch or supper.
this is a dish that can be adapted endlessly and which can be found in many cuisines - mexican huevos rancheros, greek avga me domates, italian uova al pomodoro, middle eastern jazmaz, or turkish menemen. at its simplest, it is eggs in a lightly spiced tomato sauce (this moro recipe is a good version) but after you have made it a few times you’ll quickly get a sense of how to adapt it to the ingredients you have to hand.
i was intrigued by this recipe from london restaurant the palomar (which i loved when i visited it earlier this year) in which red peppers have a starring role. 6 red peppers –3 bell peppers and 3 romano peppers – for a dish that served four.
i was a little nervous as i’m not a big fan of sauces made just from red peppers but here the flavours added by the tomatoes and spices balance things fantastically well. i made the sauce the evening before which meant this was a relatively quick breakfast option on a lazy sunday.
the palomar’s fast traditional shakshuka (serves 4)
matbucha - 1 recipe, see below
eggs 8 - 2 eggs per person, but you can go for more or fewer
salt and pepper to taste
parsley a handful, chopped, to garnish
heat your matbucha sauce in a large, wide, shallow pan, stirring in the water – you need to start with a loose sauce, as some of the liquid will evaporate during the cooking.
season to taste with salt, then break the eggs into the sauce, one by one, making sure that you keep the yolks whole. drag the egg whites a bit with a fork to allow them to mix slightly with the sauce. this will ensure that the flavour is spread evenly through your shakshuka.
simmer over a very low heat for 10–15 minutes until the egg whites set nicely but the yolks are still runny. i always go for a runny yolk – nothing beats that buttery sensation in your mouth – but i know some people like their yolks cooked through, so if you belong to that school, simply cover the pan during the cooking process.
season the yolks with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the chopped parsley, make sure the bread is not too far away and dig in! i like to eat this straight from the pan and therefore wait for everybody to take theirs so that i can be last and keep the best bits to myself. try it and you’ll see exactly what i mean, but just keep this information to yourself or you’ll need to fight for it. been there, done that.
matbucha (makes 1 litre)
5 tablespoons rapeseed oil
3 red peppers, cored, deseeded and cut into 2cm square pieces
3 romano peppers, cored, deseeded and cut into 2cm square pieces (if you can’t find them, use an additional 3 regular ones)
1-2 red chillies, finely chopped (depending on how hot you like it)
3-4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
½ teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
400g tin of chopped tomatoes, good-quality, strained
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
challah bread to serve (optional)
the secret of success for this is to keep it on a gentle simmer. heat a large frying pan (the heavier the better) over a medium-low heat. add the oil, peppers and a pinch of salt, and let them sweat until they collapse. this should take about 35–40 minutes.
add the chillies and cook for 10 minutes, then add the garlic and cumin and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. at this point your kitchen should be filled with a garlicky aroma, but we’re not there yet, so don’t dip your challah!
add the tomatoes and gently simmer for about 30 minutes. the colour should become darker and the aroma more intense.
this is the time to add the paprika and salt to taste. simmer for another 10 minutes and adjust the seasoning if necessary. you can eat it hot or cold, and it will keep in the fridge, in a sterilised airtight container, for up to a week.