Shakshuka is my ultimate comfort food. Whether you order it at a restaurant or make it at home, there is nothing better than eating it straight out of a bubbling pan of spicy sauciness. There is also something almost sacred about eating food that’s had no pit-stops or interruptions: from flame to table.
Shakshuka originates from Tunisia and it’s now a staple on Israeli breakfast tables and restaurants, creeping up on menus all over the world. Traditionally, we dip and mop it up with pita bread or sourdough (or in my kitchen, leftover challah bread). It’s the ideal dish if you’re looking for a leisurely breakfast, or any meal for that matter, because with a generous serving of it (and that’s the way it should be) you can continue to spoon and wipe up the sauces long after the coffee has run out.
When I do any kind of tomato sauce-based cooking, I can rarely resist boiling up some pasta to swirl around in it, so in this case, pasta was my vehicle of choice to soak up the tomato-yolk concoction, as well as chickpeas for that extra bite (and fine, protein too). Spaghetti is easily maneuvered to make the perfect little ditches for the eggs to comfortably cook in, and if you haven’t yet tried the combination of salty runny egg yolks with pasta, it’s about time you do! However, don’t let the spaghetti scare you off, there will always be something left to clean up with a good piece of bread.
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, finely sliced
- 1 red chili, finely sliced
- 1 Romano pepper or regular red pepper, deseeded and chopped
- 3 fresh tomatoes, chopped
- 2 cans plum tomatoes
- 1 15 oz can chickpeas, drained
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp ground coriander
- ¼ tsp ground turmeric
- 1 Tbsp sugar or honey
- ½ tsp chilli flakes (optional)
- 2 bay leaves
- handful fresh basil and chopped parsley
- olive oil
- sea salt and pepper
- 1/2 lb uncooked spaghetti
- 4 fresh eggs, preferably free range
- In your largest frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and saute the garlic, onions, fresh red chili (leaving a few slices for garnishing later), and Romano pepper. Add the bay leaves and cook until the onions are soft.
- Add the fresh tomatoes and allow to soften for a few minutes and then add the canned tomatoes. Break the tomatoes up with a wooden spoon. Add the spices and sugar/honey and season with a good pinch of sea salt. Mix in the chickpeas and leave to cook and simmer for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, boil the spaghetti in salted water for 2 minutes less than instructed.
- When the sauce has become slightly darker and thicker and the tomatoes have softened, add ¼ cup water or pasta water to thin it out just a little bit.
- Toss the spaghetti thoroughly into the sauce and spread it evenly around the pan. With a wooden spoon, make four wells within the spaghetti and spoon a little bit of the sauce into them. Drizzle each well with a little bit of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper and add a few basil leaves into each one. Crack the eggs one by one into the wells.
- Bring the heat up so that the sauce is simmering. Cover the pan for 4 minutes and cook until the whites are solid and the yolks are runny, or to your preferred consistency.
- Top with a sprinkle of chili flakes, a pinch of salt and pepper, and a generous sprinkling of basil, parsley, and the remaining fresh chili.