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Shakshuka is one of my favorite "back pocket" recipes that always saves dinner when I need something quick and easy. This version, with rice, greens, and a sprinkle of feta cheese is healthy, hearty, and a complete meal in a pan.
Shakshuka (Shak-SHOO-Kuh) has a funny name, but it's pretty much the same as Eggs in Purgatory. Whatever you call it, it's a fast and easy dish that comes together in about 30 minutes. It's perfect for dinner or brunch — especially if you're feeding a group.
This popular Mediterranean dish features gently poached eggs on a bed of chunky, flavorful tomato sauce. Shakshuka is said to have originated in North Africa, but it's also popular in many parts of the Middle East. And it's becoming pretty mainstream in the U.S.
Shakshuka is a perfect example of why I love the Mediterranean diet so much. There are more than 20 countries around the Mediterranean sea, and each one offers different spices, flavors, and ingredients in its cuisine. It's not just about Greek salads and pita with hummus!
One of the best things about this dish is that it's so easy to tailor to your tastes and preferences. You can stick to a basic tomato base with poached eggs on top, and scoop up the yumminess with pieces of naan bread. Or you can bump up the flavors and colors with some feta (or another favorite) cheese and any kind of leafy greens, if you have those on hand.
To turn this into an easy one-pan dinner (no extra starch needed), I add some cooked brown rice to the pan while I'm sauteing my onions and roasted red peppers. The rice gets a little crispy-chewy as it cooks and it's so good!
And adding U.S-grown brown rice to this dish also bumps up the fiber and nutrition.
Did you know — U.S-grown rice contributes more than 15 vitamins and minerals, including folic acid and other B-vitamins, as well as iron and zinc? It's also packed with complex carbs, the kind that are slowly digested and provide long-lasting energy.
And of course, all rice is gluten-free.
When I cook rice, I often make more than I need. Leftover rice keeps for a few days in the refrigerator (or months in the freezer) so when I have it, I can toss a few handfuls into other recipes throughout the week.
I use long-grain brown rice in this recipe. The cooked grains are lighter, fluffier, and more separated than their medium or short grain counterparts. It works well in salads too, like my Chicken Berry and Brown Rice Bowls.
But if you're a fan of Brown Basmati rice, that would be delicious in this recipe too. It's another staple in my pantry. Try it in this Easy Chicken Biryani recipe.
Shakshuka (or Eggs in Purgatory) really is the ultimate "use whatever you have in the pantry" meal. Here are some easy substitutions to try.
- For the tomato base, I REALLY think canned tomatoes are the way to go. Whole, crushed, or pureed canned tomatoes all work well. And you can use canned tomatoes seasoned with basil, plain tomatoes, or fire-roasted tomatoes as I did here. That said, if you have a bumper crop of gorgeous fresh super-ripe tomatoes, absolutely use them to make Shakshuka! DIce them up and you'll just have to cook them until they break down and get saucy.
- For the peppers, I like the smoky flavor (and convenience) of jarred red peppers, but you can absolutely use fresh, chopped sweet bell peppers here. Or green or yellow peppers if you have those available. And if you're not a fan of peppers, it's totally OK to leave them out.
- For the greens, try peppery arugula, baby spinach, shredded kale, Swiss chard, or any other leafy greens you have in the fridge. They add LOTS of nutrients and antioxidants. But if you don't have any leafy greens, you can make this dish without them.
- For the cheese, first, it's totally optional, so don't worry if you're dairy-free. But if you have some salty, flavorful cheese like Feta, Parmesan, Romano, or Grana Padano, toss it in!
- Where's the meat? Shakshuka is traditionally a vegetarian dish, but if you want to add some browned chorizo or Italian sausage, I certainly wouldn't object.
- About the spices — Traditionally Shakshuka calls for a blend of paprika, cumin, and red chili powder. You can tailor the amounts to your taste. I'm partial to Harissa, a North African hot chili pepper paste. Harissa is a blend of chili peppers, cumin, garlic, olive oil, and sometimes other spices like coriander or caraway. You can also check the spice section of your grocery store for powdered harissa spice blends. A teaspoon goes a long way.
- Stovetop or oven? You should saute your vegetables on the stovetop, but how you finish this dish is up to you. I prefer to not heat up my oven if I don't have to, so I use the stovetop. But you can also pop the tomato-onion-pepper mixture into a 350ºF oven to roast for 20 minutes or so and deepen the flavor if you like. Then, add the eggs, cover your pan, and let the eggs poach in the sauce. Just keep an eye on the dish if you like your yolks on the runny side.
Can You Make Shakshuka Ahead of Time?
Yes! Just don't add the eggs. Make the tomato base up to a day in advance (handy if you're having people for brunch). If you have some of my slow-roasted grape tomatoes with garlic in the freezer, use them in this recipe!
Reheat the tomato base gently on the stove over medium heat. Once it's good and hot, make your wells and add the eggs.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover tightly, and let your eggs poach gently.
Related Egg Recipes
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Shakshuka With Rice and Greens
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup diced onion 1 medium
- ½ cup diced roasted red peppers from a jar
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 ½ cups cooked U.S-grown brown rice
- 1 teaspoon Harissa seasoning dry or paste, more or less to taste
- 1 ½ cups spinach (or arugula, kale, or other greens)
- 28 ounces canned Fire Roasted crushed tomatoes
- 6 large eggs
- 2 ounces feta cheese
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
- Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large saute pan with a lid. Add the onions and roasted red peppers. Saute for about 4 minutes until the vegetables are softened.
- Add the garlic, rice, and Harissa (to taste) to the pan and saute for 3 more minutes.
- Press the rice and vegetables along the bottom of the pan. Add the greens, and then the tomatoes on top. Reduce the heat to medium and let the tomato mixture cook for about 5 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low. Using a large spoon, make 6 wells in the sauce (5 around the edges and one in the middle). Gently crack an egg into each well. It might be easiest to make one well at a time and add the egg.
- Sprinkle the feta cheese over everything. Cover tightly, and let the eggs poach gently, for 6-8 minutes or until the eggs are cooked to your liking.
- Remove the pan from the heat, add salt and pepper to taste, and sprinkle with fresh minced parsley. Serve immediately.
Have you ever had Shakshuka or Eggs in Purgatory?