Shakshouka Recipe

These days our produce guy is all about tomatoes — big and small, ribbed, smooth, or pointy, red, yellow, green, or pearl — and at the rate I’m going, I am bound to turn into one very soon. I’ve been making tomato salads and sandwiches like they’re going out of style, I’ve been making tomato tarts* and tomato tarragon bread soup, and I’ve been mixing batches of gazpacho.

Another one of my top uses for this tomato bounty is shakshuka, a preparation that can be found in slightly different incarnations across North Africa and the Middle East. My first encounter with it was in Janna Gur’s excellent Book of New Israeli Food, which I told you about here and here, but I have since become acquainted with the Tunisian version as well.

A not-so-distant cousin of Provence’s ratatouille, Corsica’s pebronata, and the Basque piperade, shakshuka is most commonly a dish of tomatoes stewed with onions, bell peppers, and chili peppers until they form a thickish sauce, in which eggs are cooked — either scrambled or, as is my preference, undisturbed so they’re halfway between poached and sunny side up.

It is a simple, family-style dish that is quickly assembled, and highly flexible. You can:
- add other vegetables, especially zucchini or eggplant that you’ll cook in the sauce; artichoke hearts, drained from a jar; and diced potatoes, which you should boil beforehand,
- substitute quality canned tuna or merguez (spicy beef sausages) for the eggs,
- garnish the dish with black olives and parsley or cilantro, as I like to do, or serve it plain,
- serve the sauce with lamb skewers or other grilled meats (just not pork, for cultural consistency),
- freeze the sauce for later use: think how thrilling it will be to eat shakshuka in November!

Some recipes call for roasting the bell peppers first, which is good if you find them hard to digest, but I don’t think anyone wants to fire up the oven more than strictly necessary when it’s hot out. Others suggest you peel the tomatoes, but it seems unnecessarily fussy to me.

If your spice rack boasts a Moroccan spice mix, such as ras el hanout, now would be a good time to use it, in place of the separate spices (cumin, caraway, paprika, turmeric, and cinnamon) I’ve included. And if you don’t have a mix, and you don’t have all the spices listed either, don’t worry about it too much and just use what you have.

Join the conversation!

Have you ever had or made shakshuka? What’s your ideal version like? And what is your preferred way of using tomatoes at the height of summer?

* My two stand-by tomato tarts are the tomato tart tatin and the tomato mustard tart respectively featured in my first and second cookbooks.

Shakshouka

Shakshouka Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Serves 3 to 4.

Shakshouka Recipe

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 200 grams (7 ounces) onions, thinly sliced
  • 200 grams (7 ounces) bell peppers (2 small or 1 large; I like green for the color contrast), seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 small chili pepper (optional; ground chili powder may be substituted to taste), thinly sliced (keep the seeds if you like it hot, remove them otherwise)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (whole seeds or ground)
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (sweet or hot, smoked or not)
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 kilogram ripe tomatoes, cut into big chunks (out of season, you can substitute 800 grams/28 ounces jarred or canned whole tomatoes; if canned, pick a brand with no BPA in the lining)
  • 6 to 8 fresh eggs
  • the leaves from a few stems of fresh parsley or cilantro
  • 16 Greek-style black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • good crusty bread, for serving

Instructions

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic, onions, bell peppers, and chili pepper if using. Stir and cook over medium heat, stirring regularly, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the spices (cumin to cinnamon), stir well, and cook for a minute until fragrant.
  2. Add the tomatoes, stir, and simmer uncovered over medium-high heat, stirring regularly, until all the ingredients have melded together, the excess juices from the tomatoes have evaporated, and you're left with a thickish sauce -- exact timing will depend on how juicy your tomatoes are, but expect around 20 minutes of simmering. Taste and adjust the seasoning. (The recipe can be made in advance until this point. Let cool, transfer to an airtight container, and refrigerate; reheat in the skillet before using. The sauce may also be frozen.)
  3. Make sure the sauce is quite hot before you add in the eggs. Depending on the number of guests, form 6 to 8 shallow wells in the sauce, and break an egg into each. Some of the whites will spill over to the next wells and that's fine. Cook over medium heat without disturbing until the whites are set to your liking. You can cover the pan to speed up the cooking. (Alternatively, if cooking for one, you can heat up a single serving of the sauce in a small skillet, as pictured.)
  4. Sprinkle with parsley, olives, and pepper, and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil. Serve immediately, using a spatula to lift the eggs without breaking the yolks, with bread for mopping up the juices.
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Shakshouka

  • http://operagirlcooks.com Coco @ Opera Girl Cooks

    I first enjoyed shakshouka at Dr. Shakshuka in Jaffa, Tel Aviv. They make it on a huge outdoor stove in individual skillets, and it is incredible! Your version looks delicious.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Love the name of the restaurant, and the idea of the outdoor stove! What a lovely memory.

  • http://daysontheclaise.blogspot.com Susan Walter

    So that’s what the Arabic for huevos rancheros is — always wondered :-)

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Ah yes, huevos rancheros is definitely the cousin from America! :) I remember the ones we had at H&H Carwash in El Paso.

  • http://mrsredbootsfood.blogspot.com/ Annabel

    I made it for the first time last week and, oddly enough, am sitting here wondering if I can be bothered to make it for my supper tonight (my husband is off his feed today and will only be up for a little dry toast, if that). So I was sitting here thinking about it, and up popped your post!

    (10 minutes later) it is now cooking on my stove-top!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Now that is real-time commenting. :) I hope you enjoyed it!

      • http://mrsredbootsfood.blogspot.com/ Annabel

        Thank you, I did! Except that because my husband doesn’t enjoy his food too spicy, I made it slightly spicier than I would have done, and overdid it a bit! But it was still good.

  • http://www.plattertalk.com Dan from Platter Talk

    Gorgeous and timely. I’ve never heard of shakshouka but will be giving this a try, soon!!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I hope you report back when you do!

  • brassfrog

    I had this in Istanbul at a family restaurant. Delicious stuff, even if I didn’t know what to call it. :)

  • http://omeletta.com Ruthy @ Omeletta

    I’ve heard of this dish before, but never had it- and adding merguez to it is my favorite idea, since I’m a total sucker for merguez (er, any sausage!) Thanks for the recipe; I know I’ll use it.

  • http://tailsfromprovence.com Martine

    I’ve never heard of this but it looks great – I think I will try it tomorrow!

  • sillygirl

    When I am blessed with an abundance of tomatoes I slow-roast less-than-perfect tomatoes to put in the freezer for the dead of winter when I really enjoy that concentrated-sweet pungency. Cut into halves, put on a sheet in a slow oven, a few drops of olive oil and a little salt and an hour or two later they have collapsed – still a little wet – and become flavor bombs. You can eat them then with pepper and chopped garlic and herbs or tuck them away in the freezer.

  • http://www.acrusteaten.wordpress.com Pami

    Love baked eggs like this! Even better with chorizo!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Chorizo would take this into non-Muslim, non-Jewish territory, but I agree it would be very good. :)

  • Lina

    In Egypt, once the sauce is ready and you break the eggs onto the stew, the pan/pot/tagine is put into the oven until the eggs are set (some like the yolks runny, some like them well done). Bon appetit!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Good tip, thank you Lina!

  • http://www.tipsonhealthyliving.com Tess @ Tips on Healthy Living

    I can’t believe I’ve never heard about shakshouka. It looks delicious! But what about those of us who are a little skittish about spicy foods? Do you have any ingredients that would make equally good alternatives? Thanks.

    • http://mrsredbootsfood.blogspot.com/ Annabel

      Just omit the spices, and poach your eggs in a mixture of tomatoes, onions and sweet peppers. Season with salt and pepper, and maybe a little sweet paprika, which adds depth rather than spiciness.

      One of the joys of cooking is that you can adapt recipes to suit your own taste! Actually, the ras el hanout that Clothilde recommends isn’t very spicy at all.

      • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

        Thanks for responding, Annabel, I had somehow missed Tess’s question.

  • http://colreads.blogspot.com Col (Col Reads)

    I made this tonight, but put it over whole wheat couscous instead of serving it with bread. Husband and both daughters loved it! Thanks for the recipe.

  • Mary

    Will definitely try this. Clotilde, if using ras-el-hanout, how much would you put in? I have two versions of that spice mix; one that a friend made for me and one from Williams-Sonoma.

    My husband and I often enjoy a supper of eggs, usually huevos rancheros style, and grits. Recently made a scramble of “courgettes râpées,” eggs, and pesto to serve with grits. We live in MN but get the stone-ground grits from my brother in NC.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Ras el hanout is essentially a more complex version of the mix of the spices I’ve listed, so you can use the same amount — about 4 teaspoons total.

  • Rammy M

    love this blog, love shakshouka.
    I usually just skim the posts in my rss reader, but for this dish, one of my favorites, I opened to the site to read the whole post.
    :-)

  • http://Brittanypowell.com Brittany

    I’ve been making (and am in love with) David Lebovitz’s version this year. It is so satisfying with some crusty, torn-up bread. Also, I’ve never made it with fresh tomatoes–canned work pretty well as a wintertime stand-in. I’ll have to try it with fresh.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Good to hear, thanks Brittany!

  • Margit Van Schaick

    This reminds me of the “lecso”that my father cooked almost daily, eating it with bread or hashed brown potatoes, sometimes with a sausage added. Like some other classic Hungarian recipes, this probably came with the invasion by the Ottoman Empire centuries ago. Love your idea of freezing the sauce, now that tomato season has finally arrived!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I am adding lesco to my list of dishes to explore, thank you Margit.

  • http://www.joeinvegas.blogspot.com/ joeinvegas

    Something to try this weekend, to use those tomatoes from my garden and the eggs from the chickens next door. Thanks

  • http://revessurpapier.wordpress.com Rachel

    I love shakshouka – the recipe I swear by is in Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty. Yours is different enough (especially in terms of the spices) that I want to try it too!

    I completely agree about the letting the eggs set rather than scrambling them in – to me, that makes it piperade instead…

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I’ll have to look up the Ottolenghi version, thanks Rachel!

  • Madonna

    Thanks so much for sharing the recipe. I will be making shakshouka this weekend. My garden is overflowing with all sorts of colorful tomatoes and peppers, zucchini, and 6 different varieties of eggplant. I love ratatouille and I love eggs, so this dish is a natural.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      I hope you’ll report back on how it went, Madonna.

      • Madonna

        It went very well, and I’m sure I’ll be making it again. I used a mixture of Carmen and green bell peppers and red (Marmande) and yellow (Lemon Boy) tomatoes. The result was both beautiful and delicious.

        Now I need some new eggplant recipes. I over-planted, thinking some of the plants would die. They all survived and are thriving. I have a bounty of colorful eggplants – Hansel, Gretel, Fairy Tale, white Cloud, Black Beauty, Louisiana Long Green.

        I want to add that the pepper stew from your new cookbook is another delicious dish. It’s definitely in our meatless Monday rotation.

  • Liz

    This is a favourite supper dish in our house but I have never done it with the cumin, caraway and cinnamon. This will be tomorrow’s dinner I think. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      What spices do you ordinarily use?

  • Rebecca

    I laughed as I read this because I keep a large garden with my father and it is indeed an abundant tomato season- I feel like I too am going to turn into one if I don’t take a day off from eating them! I eat tomatoes in every way possible and now I am going to try this too!

    I love your new cookbook- I was super excited to try the recipes and have made several and loved them-including tomato tarragon bread soup! I will try this one next!
    Thank you!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Thank you so much, Rebecca, I hope you enjoy this too!

  • http://www.smokinghypnosis.net/ Pete G

    Shakshuka is becoming very popular here in Sydney where a lot of cafes are doing this for breakfast. It’s awesome. Love a bit of chilli in it!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Goog to know, thanks! I understand there’s a vibrant Lebanese community in Australia, do you think that’s how it was introduced?

      • http://www.smokinghypnosis.net/ Peter

        I would say so, yes. Very large Lebanese community here in Sydney and it’s my fav food by far. If you Google “Enmore Rd”, there are tons of cafes and restaurants with awesome food. Breakfast has just kinda taken off so that’s why shakshouka is the go to breakfast! Really cheap as well.

        • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

          Great to know, thanks Peter!

  • http://www.lildeli.com Candice

    My mum loves to eat ratatouille with an egg on top but I like how you cooked this up together in one pan. also, i have never heard of a pearl tomato. it sounds exciting.

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      The pearl tomato is a very pale, creamy yellow. Very pretty!

  • http://petalandplume.blogspot.ca/ petal and plume

    me oh my, this looks positively divine!
    xx

  • http://tailsfromprovence.com Martine

    I cooked this tonight but had trouble getting the eggs to cook evenly – two were hard and two were very runny. I think I should have had a wider pan. It tasted pretty good though

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Hm. What kind of cooking range are you using? Is it possible that it wasn’t heating the pan evenly? In that case you can try rotating the pan regularly so it evens things out.

  • Stephanie

    Clotilde, this was so good. I did try it with couscous but I think it would be better without. Loved the sweetness of the garden-fresh tomatoes with the Moroccan spices and the creamy eggs. No matter how hard I try, I can never grow enough tomatoes. Thank you!!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Thank you Stephanie, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  • http://www.chocolateandvegetables.com Catherine

    I recently had an incarnation of this dish at a local restaurant that included chickpeas spiced with cumin. It was a really nice addition and made the meal very filling!

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Ooh, the addition of chickpeas sounds so good!

  • Lily

    I just wanted to say that I LOVE the way you write recipes. Everything is so clear and well thought out! I especially appreciate the bold font on ingredients…it makes the world of difference when I’ve neglected to mise-en-place and am trying to read both the recipe ingredients and instructions off of my laptop in my tiny kitchen. :)

    • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

      Thank you Lily, you have no idea how much that means to me!

  • Alli Mitchell

    Whilst camping at Hanmer Springs in New Zealand, I leant my very large pan (the only piece of cooking equipment I ever need when camping and cooking for the five of us)to a group of four young Israelis who cooked this simple dish for their dinner in my pan. I tried it, loved it and came home and forgot it. I went to a friends house the other day and the book on her kitchen recipe book stand was open with a fabulously familiar image-Shakshuka. It’s been a day or so, but I kept thinking of it and now, New Years Eve, that’s what we are having for our tea, it’s nearly ready. As we have an abundance of Aubergines, Courgettes and tomatoes right now, that’s what’s going in mine. Heavy on the chilli and the garlic. Mmmmm, can’t wait for dinner time

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