Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Shakshouka and Perfect Brown Rice

Well it certainly has been a while since we've had a good recipe post, huh?

How does shakshouka sound?

Okay, I realize not everyone has heard of this dish, but it is a Moroccan staple, according to Wikipedia, and pretty popular in Israel.

The dish consists of eggs poached on top of a sauce consisting of tomatoes, peppers, onions, and spices cooked up in a cast-iron skillet. Sound good to you? Then proceed...


The idea to make shakshouka was born of a conversation with my boss about "Jewish" food, and after discussing various Ashkenazi (Easter European Jewish) dishes, I mentioned that Sephardi (Spanish and Middle-Eastern Jewish) dishes are a bit different. After briefly discussing shakshouka with my boss, I went to see if I could find a recipe, since I'd never actually made it before.

The recipe I found was over on The Shiksa in The Kitchen, and I started out with that recipe followed to a "T" and then made a few minor changes based on personal taste when I made it again last night. The Huz absolutely loved it and insisted it become part of our dinner recipe rotation (along with pizza, one-pot pasta, and stuffed portobella mushrooms). I have yet to convince the toddler to try it, but I wouldn't take her opinion too seriously. Her idea of a gourmet meal is yogurt...wait for it...with fruit on the bottom.

Another pretty important factor in last night's dinner came about as a result of two things: #1, a lack of good bread for sopping up the sauces, and #2, the brand new rice maker sitting on my counter.

I've had a rice maker on my wish-list for a while, but couldn't decide on which one to buy. After one of my nearest and dearest friends gave me an Amazon gift card as a birthday present, I figured it was time to get decisive and make this purchase. So I bought an Aroma brand model which came last week. Now I just needed an excuse to make rice, and there it was: Shakshouka.

I used it to make brown rice, which came out perfectly fluffy, and was the ultimate complement to that spicy, juicy, tangy, delicious Middle-Eastern/North-African dish.

So try it out, and enjoy!

Shakshouka (adapted from The Shiksa in the Kitchen)
(note: this makes a great dinner for 2-3 people, but if you make the shakshouka and leave off the eggs, it's also a great salad to put on the shabbos table.)

Ingredients:
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow or sweet onion, diced (shallots would be good in this, too)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small-to-medium zucchini, diced (optional)
  • 1/2 medium-large eggplant diced (optional)
  • 4oz of fresh mushrooms, sliced (optional)
  • 1 medium green or red bell pepper, chopped (though I used both)
  • 2 14oz cans diced tomatoes (I used one plain diced, and one fire-roasted, just for fun)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp chili powder (mild)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • cayenne pepper to taste. Be careful not to overdue it unless you LOVE that kick.
  • about 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 eggs (or more, depending on how many people you're feeding.)
Instructions:
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. If you have cast-iron, go for it. I don't, so I used my stainless steel chef's pan. Add in the onions and garlic and saute for about 3 minutes.
  2. Add in the eggplant, zucchini, and mushrooms, if using and saute for another 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent. (A note about the eggplant - I find that eggplant comes out best if it's salted for a little before you use it. I generally sprinkle with some kosher salt after I slice it, let it sit for about 5-10 minutes, then rinse it, pat dry, and dice.)
  3. Add in peppers and saute until the colors brighten a little (that means it's JUST starting to cook)
  4. Add in tomatoes, paste, and seasonings and allow it to simmer for about 5-7 minutes over medium heat, until it just starts to reduce.
  5. Crack the eggs directly into the sauce, spacing them around the pan so that they don't spread into each other. Sprinkle a little more salt and pepper over the eggs (and maybe some garlic powder, like I did.) Cover and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.
  6. A note about simmering time: The original recipe calls for 10-15 minutes, which is fine if you like your egg fully cooked through (and maybe slightly overcooked), but I personally like my eggs just a little runny or gummy in the middle. I would suggest shortening simmering time to 6-8 minutes to achieve that effect. Basically, cook it to taste.
  7. Plate it, top with some chopped parsley and/or some feta cheese. Serve with rice or good crusty bread. Enjoy! :)