Shakshuka with Marinated Feta Cheese
Smoked paprika, coriander, chili flakes and cumin. The measurements for these ingredients called for by Chef Jon Ashton’s traditional Shakshuka recipe may be small, but their importance is great and their impact on this dish is mighty. Together, these potent spices meld with the tomato and onion mixture, seasoning the soft feta cheese and eggs to create deeply savory flavors and textures that melt in your mouth. The dish is a staple in Mediterranean countries and cultures, having first originated in Tunisia centuries ago. The popularity of Shakshuka quickly spread through the region, with local cultures putting their own varied spins on the dish from Turkey to Morocco to Egypt. The word itself refers to the Arabic “mixture,” a literal, if understated description of a dish that offers a presentation as impressive as its palette of flavors.
Besides being fun to say, Shakshuka is a joy to prepare and eat. One pan, brimming with savory and tangy ingredients that will fill your kitchen with the aromas of North Africa and the Middle East, where spice reigns supreme.
Marinated Feta Cheese:
3 oz. marinated feta, roughly crumbled
1/4 cup parsley leaves, roughly chopped
3/4 teaspoon Aleppo chili flakes or 1/2 teaspoon regular chili flakes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander powder
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into long slices, 1/2 inch
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon tomato paste
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Place the feta in a bowl with the parsley, Aleppo chili flakes, olive oil, and coriander powder. Mix well and set aside (in the fridge if making in advance) until needed.
Process tomatoes and breadcrumbs in blender until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes.
Heat oil in a large (12-inch) sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and cook over medium to medium-high heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions and peppers are tender and starting to brown. Stir in the garlic, paprika, cumin and cook for one minute. Add the tomato paste and the purred tomatoes, season with a little salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat, and simmer for 10-12 minutes, until the sauce thickens to the consistency of yogurt. Remove from heat.
Crack 1 egg into small bowl and slide onto the tomato mixture. Repeat with remaining 5 eggs. Spoon sauce over edges of the egg whites so that the whites are partially covered, and the yolks are exposed.
Bring to a gentle simmer. Cover with a lid and cook until the egg whites are firm, but the yolks are still runny (4 to 5 minutes). Alternatively, you can bake the eggs in a pre-heated oven at 375 degrees F for 12-15 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat and spoon the crumbled feta over the top.