I made these eggs this morning. Actually, it was closer to noon.
But this is what happens when you begin to celebrate a Friday night with a glass of sherry here and end up here, right before they flip on the bright lights and start herding glassy-eyed customers out.
I was in no hurry to move this morning. So I settled in for a lazy Saturday. And decided to make eggs that sit in a spicy tomato sauce.
Breakfast. Brunch. Whatever you want to call it. This Tunisian-inspired dish is one of the best morning meals I’ve had in quite awhile. It’s a very relaxed version of a recipe found in Jerusalem: A Cookbook.
I am certainly not the first person to praise this cookbook. Nor will I be the last. Just last week, I met a woman who was wandering around this spice shop with her book open to the Chermoula Eggplant with Bulgur & Yogurt on page fifty-nine, circling the spice bins. She appeared trance-like. Pleasantly hypnotized by cumin and coriander.
I recognized the cookbook instantly, having recently spent some quality time with its recipes. It was a present from my brother and my copy came with a red-inked handwritten inscription that read:
I can’t decide if giving you a book called Jerusalem for Christmas is ironic; I will let you be the judge.
Quite possibly one of the best Christmas presents I received this year. I made a roasted cauliflower salad with pomegranate seeds, hazelnuts, and parsley leaves from it last week. It did not disappoint.
Nor will this. The recipe you see here today—a loose interpretation of Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s shakshuka—is as charming as a lazy Saturday breakfast could be.
It’s a one-skillet dish of spiced sautéed peppers and cooked-down tomatoes with a few eggs cracked on top. Since I didn’t have harissa on hand—and was intent on a low-key morning—I substituted toasted coriander, cumin, and fennel seed plus part of a minced up Fresno chili.
It’s a comforting savory egg dish that instantly warms. Its richness is settling. It's the perfect “Shalom” for a peaceful Saturday in January.
Spiced Tomatoes and Peppers with Simmered Eggs (a bastardized shakshuka)
Inspired by Jerusalem: A Cookbook
½ tsp coriander seed
½ tsp cumin seed
½ tsp fennel seed
glug or two of olive oil (roughly 1-2 tbsp)
1 cipollini onion, finely diced
1 red pepper, diced
½ a Fresno chili pepper, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp tomato sauce (or 2 tsp tomato paste)
6 canned plum tomatoes, chopped
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
Toast the three seeds in an 8-inch skillet on medium heat until they become fragrant. Grind the seeds with a mortar and pestle (alternatively, you could smash them with something hard like a meat tenderizer or rolling pin inside a Ziploc bag).
Heat the olive oil in the same skillet you used to toast the spices and add the onion, peppers, garlic, ground spices, and tomato sauce (or paste). Season with salt and cook until the peppers soften a bit, 5-10 minutes; turn the heat down if things look like they’re starting to burn.
Add the tomatoes and continue to cook the mixture until it becomes a thick sauce; taste and season with more salt (plus black pepper). Make four little holes in the sauce. Break the first whole egg and place it gently into one of the holes. Repeat with the remaining whole egg and yolks. Using a fork, carefully swirl the egg whites (from the whole eggs) a bit into the sauce, being careful not to break the yolks.
Simmer the eggs for 5-10 minutes, covering them with foil to speed up the cooking process if you wish. The egg whites should be set, but the yolks should still be runny.
-The original recipe (paired down to serve two people) calls for 1 tbsp harissa and ½ tsp ground cumin and is served with labneh, which is a thickened yogurt made from cow’s and sheep’s milk.
-I didn't have tomato paste (which is what the original recipe called for) but I did have some tomato sauce that I made earlier in the week. And I figured that would work just fine. It did.
-If you don’t have a Fresno chili you could substitute a serrano or jalapeño.
-This would be wonderful with some fresh bread. (The dish was gone before I could get some.)
-I ended up covering the eggs with foil, which is why there is a slight whitening to them.