I have a tendency to put people together that might not know each other, or know each other quite as well as I know them individually. This creates a weird friend phenomenon — they’re friends because they’re both best friends with me. I love it. A few months back, Diana was in New York and had lunch with my bestie, Jeff. She told him that she wants to marry the “guy version” of me so she’d be forever well-fed; Jeff let her know that he was it. They laughed and remain platonic but his culinary influence has already infiltrated the relationship.
Jeff is a New York Sephardic Jew. His family has cultural and food ties to Egypt, Syria, Italy and France. You can only imagine what his family meals are like as his mom is an incredibly passionate and talented cook. Growing up in the kitchen, Jeff has impressive skills of his own and opinions to match. Once upon a time, a girl made him shakshouka and his reaction was that she didn’t REALLY make shakshouka because there wasn’t even za’atar in it. I agreed. Don’t skip the za’atar, guys.
So. Shakshouka. Not only is it super fun to say (shock-shoo-kah!), but it is also incredibly delicious and satisfying. The word translates to “mixture” in certain Arabic dialects and that’s exactly what’s happening in the pan. You get a mixture of tomatoes, onions, peppers and spices cooked together and then you poach an egg in it. Get yourself some crusty bread to mop it all up and you’ll be in excellent shape. For our version, we stuffed peppers with the shakshouka mixture to keep things individual and adorable. Also, I’m a green pepper hater so we’re only embracing the red, yellow and orange ones here. Diana agrees. Join the club.
- ¼ cup olive oil, divided
- 1 Spanish onion, ½ inch dice
- 1 red bell pepper, ½ inch dice
- 2 orange bell peppers
- 2 yellow bell peppers
- 2 shallots, minced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 4 Roma tomatoes, ½ inch dice (seeds removed!)
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon za’atar
- 1 teaspoon hot pimentón
- 1, 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes (we like Tuttorosso in the blue can!)
- 3 sprigs of thyme, divided
- 4 large eggs (splurge on some fancy farm eggs, please!)
- kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- delicious, crusty bread, to serve (we love carbs!)
- Preheat an oven to 400°F.
- Cut the top inch off of 2 orange and 2 yellow peppers. Remove seeds and ribs. Cut the top of the pepper in ½ inch dice. The bottom part of the pepper will now be the “cup” for the Shakshouka. Rub the bottom portion of the peppers with 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on a lined sheet pan and roast until tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes; we don’t want the peppers to collapse! Remove from oven and set aside.
- In a large sauté pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sauté onion until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add diced peppers and stir until softened, about 3 minutes. Add shallots and garlic, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomato paste and toast for about 30 seconds, until the tomato paste sticks to the pan a bit and starts to caramelize. Add diced, fresh, tomatoes, stirring to release their juices, about 1 minute. Add dry spices and toss to toast, about 30 seconds. Add crushed tomatoes and 2 sprigs of thyme, stir and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until mixture has thickened.
- Spoon mixture into hollow, roasted peppers, filling about ¾ of the way up. Top with a cracked egg. Return sheet try to oven and bake for 5 to 7 minutes, until the whites are JUST set. Sprinkle with salt and the leaves from 1 sprig of thyme. Serve immediately; you won’t be able to wait to break that yolk!
- If you just want to make shakshouka without the stuffed peppers, I recommend using 2 whole peppers, preferably different colors, cut in ½ inch dice. Follow this recipe until the mixture has thickened. At that point, “dig” four holes in the mixture and crack eggs in each of them. Simmer for 5-7 minutes until eggs have set.