Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Playdate Special: Eggs for a Shakshuka

Eggs always fascinate my culinary curiosity. And when they are the stars of the dish - and not just a supporting actors- they really provoke my courage to experiment.  That's exactly the case with the Israeli shakshuka. The first and last time I tried this ideal brunch meal was in the same place. The charm and mystery of the shakshuka once again called me to investigate its origin: North African, for sure. And I also read somewhere that the name comes from the Hebrew verb "to shake". And at the restaurant Hendale (something like cute), hidden in between flower greenhouses and crops of organic strawberry, shakshuka is really memorable. It is au gratin with some Romanian Cashkeval cheese and lots of fresh spinach. So good that I never even tried to order it from another place.
And I was so pleased with it that I dared to bring it to a playdate. Kids were not impressed by its looks, but ended up calling it "yummy" instead of initial sincere "yucky". I served it with another staple of the Israeli restaurant, the baked yam. Darienne approved it and even not being a big fan of eggs, she agreed that so many things happen on the dish that eggs get somehow a second -role.
With you, another inspired Israeli recipe, a free interpretation of what I tasted at Hendale.

Shakshuka with Spinach and Cheese Crust
As eggs play the main role of the dish, I use my favorite large brown eggs. Mostly I love to bring the happiness of  free range chickens, well fed with Omega-3, to my table. And my experience shows that the best the egg, the yummier the result.
1/2 cup yellow bell peppers, julienned
1/2 cup orange peppers, julienned1/2 cup red bell peppers, julienned
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cups tomato diced in tomato juice (canned) , your home-made tomato sauce or your favorite tomato pasta sauce
Fresh or dried herbs such as basil, marjoram, thyme or parsley (choose your favorite)
4 to 5 eggs
2 cups Popeye Sauce or you may use your favorite jar of Alfredo sauce and add spinach to it with a blender
Salt to taste (if you use the tomato sauce it wont probably be necessary)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Paprika, to taste (optional)
Parmesan and mozzarela cheese, to cover

Coat a large oven-proof skillet with olive oil. On a medium-high heat, add onions and bell peppers. When they are almost brown add tomatoes from a can or your favorite tomato sauce. When boiling, lower the heat and add each egg at a time in one of the sides of the pan. When whites start to become white, cover with a generous stream of green sauce (Popeye or made of spinach and alfredo). Add cheese and transfer it to the oven on the broil mode. Broil on low up to when the cheese melts and forms a crust. Enjoy it with pitta bread or baked za'átar yams.




6 comments:

Darienne said...

I'm just beginning to come around to eggs, and this was *fantastic*! Once you told me the name, it became irresistible! I'm looking forward to making this for my mom when I visit her next month.

Cindy Rowland said...

Sounds like a winner. Can't wait to try it. Love eggs.

Myrna said...

Thanks for unravelling the for us the structure of Hendele's Shakshuka. It is indeed a great dish - like nearly all dishes served at this lovely restaurant seated in the green. I will try your interpretation!

Anna Muggiati said...

Myrna, It s really a very free interpretation, and Hendale's one is mainly green. Cindy, yes, it is a great dish to try. Darienne, I am so happy you enjoyed it.

Darienne said...

My family *loved* this! It was so filling, and comforting. Ran into a little trouble: The eggs didn't cook. I think I needed to let it come to a fuller boil, and I blended alfredo sauce with spinach without heating it. Next time I'll heat up the Popeye sauce to help the eggs along. We ended up popping the pan back in the oven for 15 minutes or so to cook through. Delicious!

Anna said...

Darienne. perhaps a good idea would be to close the lid of the pan for some minutes to make sure the eggs are going to cook properly! This before covering with the green sauce. I am glad all liked the dish, and probably it will be one of our favorite choice for Fall brunches. Thanks for trying it.

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