Cast Iron Spicy Shakshuka with Saffron & Feta

 
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Shakshuka is one of the most popular Middle Eastern breakfast dishes. It's made with slow cooked tomatoes, red bell peppers, onions and spices, topped with an egg that is poached lightly in a flavorful simmering sauce of tasteful glory. Whether it’s Greece, Israel or Iran this is a breakfast staple in every Middle Eastern household.

This recipe is inspired by my brother, who makes it so effortlessly and gets so many compliments, I decided to get in on the excitement.

First off, for any tomato sauce, whether it's for a hearty pasta Bolognese or a base for a pizza, you start off with sautéed garlic and onions with a lot of good olive oil. That smell of sautéed glory just drives me crazy. It’s like a marriage of flavors that just can’t go wrong.  

The secret to a good tomato sauce is the kind of tomatoes you use. I find that tomatoes on the vine make the sauce not only earthy but thick and flavorful. Those three ingredients combined are the bases to every tomato sauce that I make.

*Tip: The longer you simmer the better the sauce….

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With Shashuka its all about the spices you use, so once you have the base of onion, garlic, olive oil and tomatoes it's the spice profile that sets the tone. The spices used vary from one recipe to another but cumin, oregano, paprika, chili powder are in most basic recipes for this dish. I of course had to add a Persian touch with a dash of saffron, cracked an egg and sprinkled some feta. I realized that somewhere between tossing chopped onions in a pan and tearing up basil leaves for garnish, this was an absolute crowd pleaser and happens to be very easy to make. 

The best thing about this dish is that you can eat it during breakfast, lunch or dinner and everything happens in a single cast iron so there is no mess and dipping slices of toasted French bread into this warm tomato, egg dish makes me feel so cozy and comforted. 

 

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Servings: 2

Total time: 30 Mins

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 medium bell pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tomatoes on vine chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground saffron
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp crumbled feta cheese
  • 4 slices of french bread for dipping

Directions

1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onions and bell peppers and sauté, stirring occasionally, until they're tender and starting to brown. 

2. Add the garlic (You always add garlic after the onion since they are very easy to burn)

3. Stir in chopped tomatoes and simmer all together, simmer about 10 minutes on high heat.

4. Add tomato paste, cumin, smoked paprika, saffron, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a simmer then lower heat and continue to simmer uncovered for 15 minutes or until the mixture is thickened.

5. Add mixture to individual iron cast pots, crack the eggs into the sauce. 

6. Place in oven at 350 degrees uncovered about 10 mins or until desired doneness of egg.

7. Remove the cast pot from the oven and sprinkle with parsley, basil, and feta. Serve warm with French bread.

 

Nooshe Joon! Enjoy!

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Nikki Karamooz