It has almost been a year since our trip to Portland, and I still can’t get these eggs out of my head. A friend of mine, Kevin, recommended the restaurant Tasty n Sons for brunch, and thankfully we took his good advise. Somehow we managed to avoid the two hour wait by sitting up at the bar. The restaurant was all hustle bustle, buzzing with the good energy of happy guests. The fragrant earthy smells coming from the kitchen almost made me melt. After much debate, I ordered the Shakshuka, a flavorful North African tomato and pepper stew of sorts, topped with eggs and then baked in a mini cast-iron skillet, served with crusty bread to mop up all the deliciousness. It was full flavored and hearty and comforting….. and as soon as we got back home, I recreated it, so as to not forget the flavors.
After a little research, I find that it is also really popular in Israel. For a Moroccan twist, add a couple pinches of cinnamon and some dried apricots or raisins to the stew.
Shakshuka -North African Skillet Eggs
- 3T Olive oil
- 1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 large yellow bell pepper, sliced
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, diced
- 3/4 tsp salt
- cracked pepper to taste
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp chili flakes
- 3 medium tomatoes diced small
- 1/3 c white wine or water
- 1 T fresh basil ribbons, or chopped Italian parsley
- 1/3 C feta or goat cheese (optional)
- 1/3 C small diced spanish style cured Chorizo or Merguez, a North African spiced sausage (optional)
- 4 -6 Extra large organic eggs ( or seared salt and pepper tofu…see below)
In a large cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the sliced peppers and garlic, and turn heat down to med-low and cook for 5 more minutes, until peppers are tender. Add the spanish chorizo (optional) spices, sugar and salt. Cook for two more minutes. Add fresh tomatoes and white wine ( or water). Simmer on low for 15 -20 minutes, adding more water if it gets too dry or thick. You want a stew like consistency. After tomatoes cook down, taste, it should be full flavored and adjust salt and sugar if necessary. Crack 4 eggs over the mixture, sprinkling each egg with a little salt and cracked pepper. Add crumble goat cheese or feta ( optional) over the top and place in the 400F oven. Bake until Egg whites are cooked ( about 7 minutes) and yolks are still soft. Remove from oven and top with fresh basil ( or cilantro or Italian parsely). Serve with toast or crusty bread.
Pan Seared Salt and Pepper Tofu
Slice one block of tofu into four 1 inch thick pieces.
Using a round 2 or 3 inch cookie cutter, cut 4 circles into the tofu, reserving the scraps for something else. In a heavy bottom skillet heat 2 T olive oil, a generous pinch of kosher salt and generous amount cracked pepper, and some chili flakes if you like heat. Heat this up on medium heat until hot. Blot tofu with paper towels and sear in the hot seasoned oil, until lightly brown on each side.