Easy Shakshuka Recipe
Shakshuka, eggs poached in a tomato-based sauce, is perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. This Easy Shakshuka recipe features bell peppers and harissa, a spicy chili pepper–based paste. With simple ingredients, this dish is a cinch to pull together, but it looks impressive. I love making this Easy Shakshuka recipe when family or friends are visiting. It’s a “nothing-in-the-cupboard,” go-to dish that is always a crowd-pleaser. Feel free to replace the pepper with eggplant or zucchini, or any other vegetables you have on hand. Serve with crusty whole-wheat bread to mop up the sauce and yolk.
Easy Shakshuka Recipe
Try it once and my Easy Shakshuka recipe will become a staple in your weekly meal rotation. It is one of those recipes that perfectly combines flavor, simplicity, beneficial nutrients, and common ingredients. Adding herbs to the top contributes color, phytochemicals, and makes my Easy Shakshuka recipe look fancy so you can impress all of your guests.
This Easy Shakshuka recipe uses both the stove and the oven to cook the ingredients, but thankfully only one dish! The stove provides heat to slightly caramelize the onion, pepper, and garlic, and the oven softly poaches the eggs in tomato sauce. Living in New York City I am always trying to create recipes that maximize flavor and nutrients while minimizing effort and dishes. My Easy Shakshuka recipe absolutely delivers.
Some people are cautious about cooking anything acidic (tomatoes) in cast iron. It is true that iron is soluble (dissolves) in acid, but this is not a bad thing unless you are cooking acids in cast iron for long enough that they develop a metallic taste. This is only bad because the taste is unpleasant.
The type of iron absorbed from cast iron is non-heme which is less readily absorbed by our bodies than heme iron (from animal products), except in the presence of vitamin C. Vitamin C, like that found in bell peppers, can help our bodies absorb the non-heme iron. While this is a positive addition to our diets, we should not rely on this process as our primary source of iron.
Taking Care of Cast Iron
To make my Easy Shakshuka recipe I use a cast iron pan because I can easily transfer it from the stovetop to the oven. Cast iron also holds heat extremely well, which makes it perfect to sear my Pepper and Beef Stir Fry or my Teriyaki Flank Steak. Just make sure you pre-heat gently and slowly to distribute heat as evenly as possible.
You can buy cast iron cookware either seasoned or unseasoned. You are most likely familiar with a dark cast iron that has already been seasoned. Unseasoned cast iron is a lighter gray color and typically rougher or more porous. “Seasoning” does not refer to a buildup of flavor, but rather a coating on the metal (also called the patina) developed through repeated contact with hot oil that can repel food and moisture. The more seasoned a pan is, the easier it is to cook with. In fact, cast iron is one of the only kitchen tools that gets better with time and is virtually indestructible.
Both seasoned and unseasoned cast iron cookware can be quite affordable (as inexpensive as $20), so I would recommend buying it pre-seasoned.
How to Season Cast Iron
If your cast iron has never been seasoned before, or if you prefer to add additional seasoning after purchasing, the process is extremely simple to complete at home. Assuming you are working with a 12-inch skillet (adjust more or less for larger or smaller cookware), add about one Tablespoon of flaxseed oil to the cooking surface. Flaxseed oil is the best oil for this purpose because it has a high degree of unsaturation and can readily polymerize to form the patina we mentioned above. Rub the oil over the entire surface including the sides, back and handle with a reusable or paper towel. Next take a clean towel and buff the entire surface to remove any excess oil. Place your pan in a 500-degree F oven for 30 minutes- one hour. At this point you can re-oil for another layer of seasoning, or you can turn off the oven and let the skillet come back to room temperature. A well-seasoned pan should not be sticky or greasy to the touch.
Daily maintenance of a cast iron pan is also quite easy if it is seasoned properly. After cooking, add hot water (cold water to a hot pan could cause cracks) and scrub with a non-abrasive brush. The idea that you cannot use any soap on your seasoned cast iron pan is a myth. A little soap will not remove your hard-earned layers of seasoning. Just make sure to rinse and dry well after washing. Drying is the most important task to prevent rusting and you don’t want to cook with a rusted pan. Place your rinsed and dried skillet back on the burner on medium-low heat until all the moisture is gone. Then while it is still hot, add a small drop of oil (about 1-2 teaspoons) and buff using tongs (remember it will be hot) to hold a towel until no excess oil remains.
No matter how diligent we are with cleaning and drying our cast iron cookware, sometimes a little rust manages to appear. If this happens do not fret. Simply soak your rusted pan in a 1:1 mixture of water and white vinegar for 30 minutes- one hour. Remove and sprinkle with baking soda to neutralize the acid, then scrub under water with steel wool until all the rust is removed. From here simply follow my earlier instructions to re-season in the oven, repeating 2-3 times.
What’s the Deal with Lycopene?
Lycopene is categorized within a group of phytochemicals called carotenoids. Carotenoids are responsible for the red, orange, and yellow colors in plants and include other factors like alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cyptoxanthin, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Tomatoes are rich with lycopene, but this nutrient is more readily available for absorption in its cooked form. Canned tomatoes are cooked and therefore a better source of lycopene than raw tomatoes.
Scientists are currently looking into whether lycopene can reduce the risk of prostate cancer among men. Studies over the last twenty years have shown both positive and neutral results in this regard. Lycopene has also been shown in studies to increase bone mineral density for both men and women (1).
Looking for more dishes to serve to brunch guests? For a punch of protein try my Black Bean Egg Bake. For a make-ahead wonder try my Breakfast Burritos, or if you want Dr. Seuss-inspired green eggs try my Scrambled Eggs with Tomatillo Salsa.
- Sahni S, Hannan M, Blumberg J, Cupples L, Kiel D, Tucker K. Inverse association of carotenoid intakes with 4-y change in bone mineral density in elderly men and women: the Framingham Osteoporosis Study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2008;89(1):416-424.
Easy Shakshuka Recipe
- 1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided
- 2 tablespoons Harissa
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ½ onion diced
- 1 bell pepper diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 28- ounce can no salt added diced tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 large eggs
- 2 to 3 tablespoons basil chopped or chiffonade (cut into ribbons)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a 12-inch cast iron pan or oven proof skillet over medium heat, add oil. Add harissa, tomato paste, onion, and pepper and sauté approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook till fragrant, approximately 30 seconds. Add diced tomatoes and salt and simmer approximately 10 minutes.
Make 4 depressions or “wells” in the sauce and gently break one egg into each. Transfer to oven and bake until whites are cooked and yolks are set, approximately 10 to 12 minutes.
Allow to cool 3 to 5 minutes, garnish with basil, and carefully spoon onto plates.
Serve with some crusty whole wheat bread to soak up the sauce and yolk.