Jarred piquillo peppers and fresh yellow bell peppers create a complex and flavorful sauce for this Tunisian egg dish.
SERVES 4 VEG
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS Shakshuka is a Tunisian dish featuring eggs poached in a spiced tomato, onion, and pepper sauce. The key to great shakshuka is balancing the piquancy, acidity, richness, and sweetness of its ingredients. Choosing the right pepper to star in this dish made all the difference. We compared the results when using fresh red bell peppers, roasted red bell peppers, and piquillo peppers, which are sweet roasted chiles. The fresh red bell peppers tasted flat and lackluster. We liked the roasted red bell peppers just fine, but the piquillo peppers were our favorite, boasting spicy-sweet and vibrant flavors. These small red peppers from Spain, sold in jars or cans, have a subtle hint of smokiness from being roasted over a wood fire. We added yellow bell peppers to the mix for a clean, fresh flavor and a contrast to the deep red sauce. We finished our shakshuka with a sprinkling of bright cilantro and salty, creamy feta cheese. Jarred roasted red peppers can be substituted for the piquillo peppers. You will need a 12-inch nonstick skillet with a tight-fitting lid for this recipe. Serve with pitas or crusty bread to mop up the sauce.
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 onions, chopped fine
2 yellow bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and cut into ¼-inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons tomato paste
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1½ cups jarred piquillo peppers, chopped coarse
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
¼ cup water
2 bay leaves
⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 large eggs
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (½ cup)
1. Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions and bell peppers and cook until softened and lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, tomato paste, 1½ teaspoons salt, cumin, turmeric, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and cayenne. Cook, stirring frequently, until tomato paste begins to darken, about 3 minutes.
2. Stir in piquillo peppers, tomatoes and their juice, water, and bay leaves. Bring to simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is slightly thickened, 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Off heat, discard bay leaves and stir in ¼ cup cilantro. Transfer 2 cups sauce to blender and process until smooth, about 60 seconds. Return puree to skillet and bring sauce to simmer over medium-low heat.
4. Off heat, make 4 shallow indentations (about 2 inches wide) in surface of sauce using back of spoon. Crack 1 egg into each indentation and season eggs with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until egg whites are just set and yolks are still runny, 4 to 6 minutes. Sprinkle with feta and remaining cilantro and serve immediately.
Poaching Eggs in Sauce, Ratatouille, or Hash
To give eggs better flavor and streamline our recipes, we often poach eggs directly in the skillet with a sauce or hash rather than poaching them separately in water. Here’s how to ensure that the whites cook through before the yolks set.
1.Off heat, make 4 shallow indentations (about 2 inches wide) in surface of sauce or hash using back of spoon.
2. Crack 1 egg into each indentation and season eggs with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until egg whites are just set and yolks are still runny, 5 to 10 minutes.
NOTES FROM THE TEST KITCHEN
In the test kitchen, we’ve tasted two- and three-month-old eggs and found them perfectly palatable. However, at four months, the white was very loose and the yolk had off-flavors, though it was still edible. Our advice is to use your discretion; if eggs smell odd or are discolored, pitch them. Older eggs also lack the structure-lending properties of fresh eggs, so beware when baking.
IN THE REFRIGERATOR
Eggs often suffer more from improper storage than from age. If your refrigerator has an egg tray in the door, don’t use it—eggs should be stored on a shelf, where the temperature is below 40 degrees (the average refrigerator door temperature in our kitchen is closer to 45 degrees). Eggs are best stored in their cardboard or plastic carton, which protects them from absorbing flavors from other foods. The carton also helps maintain humidity, which slows down the evaporation of the eggs’ moisture.
IN THE FREEZER
Extra whites can be frozen for later use, but we have found that their rising properties are compromised. Frozen whites are best in recipes that call for small amounts (like an egg wash) or that don’t depend on whipping (like a scramble). Yolks can’t be frozen as is, but adding sugar syrup (microwave 2 parts sugar to 1 part water, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved) to the yolks allows them to be frozen. Stir a scant ¼ teaspoon of sugar syrup per yolk into the yolks before freezing. Defrosted yolks treated this way will behave just like fresh yolks in custards and other recipes.
Ratatouille with Poached Eggs
SERVES 4 FAST VEG
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS Ratatouille is a classic French dish that takes summer vegetables to new heights. This flavorful stew also makes a great base for poached eggs as a healthy breakfast or dinner. After a couple of tries, we learned that it was crucial to brown the vegetables to develop and deepen their flavor, or else the dish would taste bland and soggy. Since zucchini and eggplant have very different cooking times, it was important to brown the zucchini first, then remove it from the pan before cooking the eggplant. Poaching the eggs right in the ratatouille worked like a charm and made this an easy one-pan meal. You will need a 12-inch nonstick skillet with a tight-fitting lid for this recipe. Leaving the skin on the eggplant helps keep the pieces intact during cooking. Serve with Garlic Toasts , if desired.
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound zucchini, cut into ¾-inch pieces
1 pound eggplant, cut into ¾-inch pieces
Salt and pepper
1 onion, chopped fine
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound plum tomatoes, cored and cut into ½-inch pieces
½ cup chicken or vegetable broth
4 large eggs
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (½ cup)
1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add zucchini and cook until well browned, about 5 minutes; transfer to bowl.
2. Add eggplant, 2 tablespoons oil, and ¼ teaspoon salt to now-empty skillet and cook over medium-high heat until eggplant is browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in onion and remaining 1 tablespoon oil and cook until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and broth and simmer until vegetables are softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in zucchini and any accumulated juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Off heat, make 4 shallow indentations (about 2 inches wide) in surface of ratatouille using back of spoon. Crack 1 egg into each indentation and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until egg whites are just set and yolks are still runny, 4 to 6 minutes. Sprinkle with basil and Parmesan and serve immediately.