Shakshuka

Serves two hungry people at 11:00 on a Saturday.

I love this stuff. I came across it on holiday (in New Zealand, of all the places?!) and decided I had to try my own recipe. I did some reading around the recipe and it seems that there are no hard and fast rules as to which spices should/n’t go in, so apologies to anyone who knows this in a completely different incarnation - try this anyway, it might surprise you!

Shakshuka is truly awesome for a weekend breakfast, or for lunch or dinner any day of the week. Savour with a crust of a dark, seeded bread to mop up the sauce and a cup of good strong coffee to complement the spices. Indulge with Bucks Fizz because it’s Saturday/Sunday/because why not?, and watch the world go by.

All of the superb fresh flavours and the crunch of the vegetables and the vibrant colours make for a satisfying meal experience which feels healthy. Just look at all of the colours and textures going in!

FODMAP rating: this is low-FODMAP, low-Gi, low-sugar and low-fat! Eat it everyday! Leave out the spring onions and mushrooms if you’re in a FODMAP-elimination phase or know you can’t tolerate these.
Difficulty rating: easy! All you have to do is chop the veg, fry the spices and crack the eggs into the tomato sauce. Cracking the eggs is probably the hardest bit! It takes about half an hour to make this but doesn’t require any special equipment.
Recipe versatility: a truly great recipe to adapt with your favourite veg or herbs, perfect for difficult diets or picky eaters (even those who don’t like the texture of tomatoes are usually ok with passata or blended tinned tomatoes). Also brilliant for using up odds and ends of veg in the fridge at the end of the week, every week!

I love getting my teeth into crunchy veg, even in dishes like this which can be cooked long enough that they become very soft (or even made without any veg at all). I think that the textures help our mouths to appreciate the flavours in each different food as well - the delicious nutty, umami flavour from the tender chestnut mushrooms, the sweet bite in the red pepper and the sweet-sharp liquid explosion of the cherry tomatoes all wonderfully complement the exquisite richly soft and warm poached egg yolk.

This is such a wonderful combination of spices as well, and so easy to tailor to your preferences - for a really spicy dish use more chilli flakes and cayenne pepper; if you’d prefer it to be fresher then use a bit more more coriander, go easy on the smoky paprika and add some chopped fresh coriander as well! Just taste and adjust as you like.

Shakshuka

Serves 2
Low-FODMAP, Low-Gi, Low-Fat, Low-Sugar, High-Delicious and Nutritious
Nice and Easy, about 30 minutes prep and cooking time.

Ingredients:

  • ½ courgette, about 75g
  • ½ red pepper, c.75g
  • ½ celery stick, c.30g
  • 2-3 spring onions (white ends removed!!!)
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 2-3 chestnut mushrooms, c.40-50g, if tolerated
  • 600g passata or tinned tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (or even use garlic oil if you know you can tolerate this)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 eggs (or just use one egg per person for a lighter option)
  • Fresh basil, parsley or coriander to scatter on top
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

First, prep your veg: quarter the courgette lengthways and chop into 1cm chunks, chop the pepper into 1cm chunks, cut the celery in half lengthways and slice quite finely, quarter the cherry tomatoes (and mushrooms, if using) and thinly slice the spring onions.

Measure out the spices. Heat the oil in a large frying pan on a medium-high heat and add the spices and spring onions. Cook for a couple of minutes to release the flavours, then add the passata and heat through.

Next, add the vegetables and cook for a few minutes to start to soften, and to reduce the sauce a little - you need to be able to make wells into which to crack the eggs. Add a sprinkling of salt and pepper.

If the sauce has reduced too much then add a little water. Bring the sauce back up to a gentle simmer then turn the heat down to medium.

Carefully crack the eggs into the sauce (use a spoon to find gaps between the pieces of veg to crack them into). If you’re not a Master Egg Cracker then you may prefer to crack them into a bowl and pour them gently into the pan, one by one.

Cover with a big lid (I use my wok lid, or you can use a large dinner plate set over the top of the pan) and leave to poach for a few minutes until the whites are set - this can take 4-10 minutes depending upon the freshness and size of your eggs, as well as how runny you want them to be.

Use a big serving spoon to scoop the eggs out onto individual plates then share out the veg. Serve with a big chunk of bread and scatter chopped herbs over the top.

Dig. In. Greedily, and with gusto.