Shakshuka is comfort food. Originally from North Africa, the dish migrated to Israel where it became so popular it is practically the national dish. I was introduced to it while watching Somebody Feed Phil Tel Aviv on Netflix, when our intrepid host, Phil himself, sampled the dish at Dr. Shakshuka, said to be the best shakshuka in the city. The dish can be vegan; just leave out the cheese and the sausage, as it lends itself to endless variations—there is even a green shakshuka. I think it is hearty enough without the feta and the sausage, but I had the feta and I live with an unreformed carnivore. So here we are.
Shakshuka with Feta and Italian Sausage
Yield: 4 servings
2 teaspoons good olive oil
1 small red onion, sliced into thin rings
2 large cloves garlic, minced
5 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 small sweet red bell pepper
250g Italian sausage, without the casings, crumbled
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
pepper flakes, to taste
Seasoning salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup feta, crumbled
Thick slices of crusty bread to mop up the sauce and the runny yolks
Heat the oil over medium heat in a 10-inch oven ready skillet, preferably non-stick. Lightly saute the onion until softened. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant. Cook the sausage until no longer pink. Add the peppers and tomatoes and cook until wilted. Add about 1/3 to 1/2 cup water to the skillet. Cook down the tomatoes and peppers until the sauce is thickened and reduces slightly, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200˚C/400˚F.
Add the cumin and paprika. Add pepper flakes and seasoning salt to taste. Add black pepper. Stir and taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary. It’s best to under-salt the dish as the feta is salty. Remove from heat and stir in the feta.
Make 4 shallow depressions in the top of the shakshuka and break one egg into each well. If you break a yolk, no matter. Put the skillet in the oven and be sure to remove the silicone handle guard if your skillet has one. Bake until the eggs are just set, about 7-10 minutes, until the egg whites turn opaque but the yolks are still runny. The eggs are best when they are just cooked. If you like the yolks hard cooked, bake the shakshuka longer but the dish tastes sublime when the egg yolks run into the hot tomato sauce as you dip a slice of bread into them.