I rather like this African take on ratatouille, or perhaps the French copied this when they colonised parts of North Africa. Anyway who really cares, as I like ratatouille and I also like shakshuka.
This recipe is simplicity itself and you could put a meal on the table in little over 35 minutes. Ignore the title and think poached eggs in rich tomato sauce.
If you Google ‘shakshuka recipes’ you will get about 181,000 hits and if you start to read some of them, it quickly becomes apparent that this is a dish that is at home anywhere from Mauritania on the north-west coast of Africa all the way round the Mediterranean to Albania and beyond into the Balkans. Each country that has it will doubtless claim it as their own. However what is certain is the number of different ways of adding different ingredients. Essentially a vegetarian dish, in some countries sausages or shrimps are added . The cheese and the spices used vary according to country and availability.
Basically make a spicy tomato sauce and add what else takes your fancy.
In some countries this is a breakfast meal, cooked and served straight to the table, in single serving cast iron pans with hunks of bread to mop up the juices, but this is versatile enough to be served straight to table, in a paella dish for instance, as part of a dinner course, with rice and some green vegetable.
With an eye to appearances, I would have preferred to have had a green pepper, however they are basically unobtainable here in the north of Italy. I think next time I make it I will add some peas, just to add contrast with the red background.
Total time to prepare and cook 35 mins
3 tbsp Olive oil
1 large onion diced
2 small zucchini diced
3 cloves garlic
1 red pepper (green would look better), diced
1 yellow pepper,diced
3 medium tomatoes or a 450 g/1 lb can of tomatoes diced small
100 ml/3½ fl oz/½ cup red or white wine
2 tsp ground cumin
1 – 2 tsp chili flakes (or whatever form of chili you are most comfortable with)
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 or 3 tsp dried basil
salt and pepper to taste
100 g/3½ oz/1 cup grated cheese (Use what is local and available. I used parmesan, but cheddar, feta or pecorino would be ideal)
4 medium to large eggs
Peel and dice the onion, put it into the pan with the oil and soften for 5 minutes. (I used a 30 cm/12 inch pan, but you might want to use a bigger pan otherwise the eggs will look crowded)
Dice the peppers and add to the pan and soften for 5 minutes
Dice the zucchini and add to the pan and soften for 5 minutes.
Dice the tofu and add to the pan ( I know, it is not in the list of ingredients but I found it lurking in the fridge and decided to add it)
Add the tomatoes and wine, bring to the boil and then simmer for about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile add the spices, basil, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir them in well. Taste and adjust the flavour according to your desire,
Sprinkle the cheese all over
Make 4 ‘nests’ in the mixture and crack the eggs into them. The observant ones of you will have spotted only 2 eggs, and that is because I was cooking for 2, me and Joy, but the list of ingredients is for 4.
Cook for a further 5 minutes or so, according to how soft you like your eggs.
You might have to add water if the mixture is drying out or cover the pan with a lid to help cook the eggs or to stop it from drying out.