Thursday, August 28, 2014

Eggplant and Zucchini Shakshuka

I call any eggs cooked in any kind of red vegetable sauce a Shakshuka. If you want to make a more traditional version, you can try Ottolenghi's recipe (he also has a good one in his Jerusalem cookbook).

Clearly, I love egg dishes. But I especially love egg dishes that can be made for a crowd. Omelets or fried eggs are you usually best in small batches, but when you bake eggs, you can get a whole bunch going at one time... and that means that this type of dish can be served at a brunch, lunch, or even at a dinner party. They're still best served hot and fresh, but the sauce can be made ahead of time, and you could add and cook the eggs at the last minute for your guests.

I served this dish to my family for lunch along with a salad, and good crusty bread. Good crusty bread should probably be listed as an ingredient in this recipe.

This dish is super satisfying, deeply flavorful, and easily adjustable. Add or omit the veggies you like. The key is to have a chunky homemade tomato sauce with lots of veggies that has a kick to it. However you make it, enjoy!

Eggplant and Zucchini Shakshuka
Serves 4

1 small eggplant, cubed
1 tablespoon kosher salt
olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 small bell pepper (orange or red), diced
1 small zucchini, cubed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large tomato, diced
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
big pinch crushed red chili flake (or to taste)
1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup plain tomato sauce/pureed tomatoes
1 teaspoon honey (or to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
8 eggs (2 per person)
chopped flat leaf parsley, for garnish

Preheat your oven to 375°F.

Start by preparing your eggplant. Cut it into small cubes, and sprinkle the cubes evenly with a tablespoon of kosher salt. Let it stand in a colander for 30 minutes. The salt will make the eggplant less bitter, and it will also prevent it from getting to soggy.

While your eggplant sits in salt, prep the rest of your veggies.

On medium high heat, drizzle in a few tablespoons of olive oil into a large cast iron skillet or braiser Dutch oven (if you don't have either, you can use 2 skillets, stainless steel is better than non-stick... but use what you got!). Let the olive oil get hot, and then add the salted and drained eggplant. Cook the eggplant until it starts to brown and soften, and is mostly cooked through.

Next, add the onion, pepper, and zucchini. Cook until all of the veggies soften and start to brown, about 6-8 minutes. Add more oil if the pan looks dry. Add the garlic, and cook until it softens and starts to smell aromatic, about 1-2 minutes. Add the tomato, then add the spices and cook everything for one minute until the veggies are coated in the spice mixture. Add the tomato paste, and coat all of the veggies in it. Finally add the tomato puree. You should have a very chunky sauce. You can add more or less tomato puree depending on your preference. Finally, season the sauce with honey, salt and pepper. The honey balances out the acidity of the tomatoes, and you can use less or more based on your preference.

Allow the sauce to simmer for 3-5 more minutes, until all of the veggies are fully cooked, and the flavors have come together.

Turn the heat off. At this point, you can reserve the sauce and reheat it just before you are about to cook the eggs. If you are using it immediately, make 8 little wells in the pan. Add one cracked egg to each little well. Cover the pan with a lid, and place it in the oven for 6-8 minutes, or until the eggs are still giggly, but the whites have started to turn opaque above the yolks. Garnish with chopped parsley (not shown in photo, but adds a really nice fresh flavor).

Serve immediately with the aforementioned crusty bread, especially if that bread is toasted!

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