Of course you’ve had an idea gets stuck in your head and you just can’t seem to shake it – In the process of searching for something “breakfasty” to feature on this blog again, I just kept coming back to Shakshuka. The thing is, I’d never had it before. I have all of Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks, I’ve watched many-a middle-eastern tv show, and heard from many friends how great this dish could be. It just seemed to be in my head. During the week, I sat back down with Yotam’s Jerusalem cookbook and started flipping through the pages. Shakshuka was back and it needed to be done. My take on this is closer to Deb Perlman’s version, we both agree on the zucchini and squash. I’ve paired mine with Yotam’s suggestion of zhoug and a few of my favorite ingredients from my line-cook days.
The best part about this dish, though, is the impression it made on me before I even tried it. I started with broiling the vegetables for extra depth of flavor – the combinations of smells and filled the kitchen before anything even hit the pan. After that, I added some posh canned tomatoes and topped it exactly the way I wanted it – full of toppings. In tasting the dish, I noticed that the version I’ve crafted here today really has a strong backbone. It could stand up to even more intense flavors – the mild acidity, lingering burn, and creaminess from the egg would do great sitting next to some deeply browned lamb patties or roasted game. I present to you a Roasted Shakshuka paired with Zhoug Sauce. Dip your favorite pitas in the remnants of the runny egg yolk and sauce, sit with some friends, and enjoy this dish.
Roasted Shakshuka with Zhoug Sauce
- 28 oz. can san marzano tomatoes
- 1 medium zucchini
- 1 medium yellow squash
- 3 large spring onions
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 3-4 hot peppers of your choice (we used jalapeños and some shishitos for extra flavor)
- 1 T harissa paste
Zhoug Sauce Ingredients:
- 1 oz. cilantro, roughly chopped
- 3/4 oz. parsley, roughly chopped
- 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded, roughly chopped
- 1/2 tsp. granulated white sugar
- 1/2 tsp. toasted cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
- 1/4 tsp. whole cardamom pods
- 2 T olive oil
- 2 T water
- flaky sea salt to taste
- 4 white pitas, broiled in the oven
- 4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
- 1 palmful finely diced parsley
- 3 preserved lemon discs, finely chopped
- 6 oz. greek yogurt (or our homemade labneh)
- tahini, drizzle to taste
- harissa, drizzle to taste
- zhoug sauce, drizzle to taste
Start by setting your broiler to high and let pre-heat. Then get your roasting vegetables ready for the shakshuka – quarter and cut zucchini and squash into 1/4″ slices, cut the whites of spring onion and halve horizontally, de-stem and halve peppers. Drizzle all vegetables with a healthy dose of olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Let broil for 12-15 minutes – refer to the roasted picture above for preferred amount of charring.
While the vegetables roast, prepare the zhoug. Combine all sauce ingredients in a food processor and whir until blended. Per Ottolenghi’s suggestion, the sauce should look like it was hand ground – we’re looking for rough small pearl granules. Just a few pulses will do in a high powdered processor. Once combined, set aside. The zhoug will keep for 3+ weeks in a sterilized jar.
After the vegetables are roasted to your satisfaction and have cooled down a bit, give them a rough chop. Alternatively, consider blitzing them in the food processor as well. Pre-heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Mince 4 cloves of raw garlic and fry in olive oil. Then, add the roasted vegetables, caramelizing lightly. After that, add the whole tomatoes and 1 T of harissa paste and lightly mash with a potato masher. Let the flavors meld and simmer for 10+ minutes, until lightly thickened. Once the shakshuka seems good enough to eat, use the back of a spoon to create wells in the tomato sauce. Decrease the stove heat to low – gently crack the eggs into the ditches, dot with feta cheese, and cover with a tight fitting lid for 5-6 minutes.
Once the egg whites have set and the yolks are nice and runny (lightly opaque), remove from heat and set on a trivet. Sprinkle parsley across the top of the dish and serve alongside pitas, extra harissa, parsley, zhoug sauce, greek yogurt, preserved lemons, and tahini. Sprinkle with sumac if you have some on hand, it’ll be worth it.