Shakshuka (North African–Style Poached Eggs in Spicy Tomato Sauce) Recipe

Vegetarian shakshuka is a one-pan egg and tomato dish perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

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Photographs and video: J. Kenji López-Alt
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Why It Works

  • Charring the peppers and onions gives them another dimension of flavor.
  • Whole canned tomatoes have better flavor than diced, and are more consistent year-round than fresh ones.
  • Spooning the tomato mixture over the egg whites helps them set faster, allowing you to leave the yolks runnier.

Though it's North African in origin, these days shakshuka is popular throughout the Middle East (particularly in Israel, where it may as well be one of the national dishes) and in hip neighborhood diners all over the coastal US. Given its versatility, it's easy to see why. It's quick; it's simple; it's easy to scale up or down; and it works for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, or a midnight snack.

Recipe Facts

Active: 25 mins
Total: 25 mins
Serves: 4 to 6 servings

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Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 large red pepper (bell pepper for milder heat, or a hotter variety, such as red horned pepper, depending on your heat preference), stems, seeds, and ribs removed, thinly sliced
  • 1 fresh small hot chile (such as jalapeño, serrano, or Fresno), stems, seeds, and ribs removed, thinly sliced
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (15g) sweet Hungarian or smoked Spanish paprika
  • 2 teaspoons (8g) whole or ground cumin seed
  • 1 (28-ounce; 800g) can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by squeezing between your fingers or with a pastry blender (see note)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Large handful minced cilantro, parsley, or a mix
  • 6 eggs
  • Sliced oil-cured black olives, feta cheese, or artichoke hearts, for serving (all optional)
  • Crusty bread, for serving

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet or straight-sided sauté pan over high heat until shimmering. Add onion, red pepper, and chile and spread into an even layer. Cook, without moving, until vegetables on the bottom are deeply browned and beginning to char in spots, about 6 minutes. Stir and repeat. Continue to cook until vegetables are fully softened and spottily charred, about another 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until softened and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add paprika and cumin and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Immediately add tomatoes and stir to combine (see note). Reduce heat to a bare simmer and simmer for 10 minutes, then season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in half of cilantro or parsley.

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  2. Using a large spoon, make a well near the perimeter of the pan and break an egg directly into it. Spoon a little sauce over edges of egg white to partially submerge and contain it, leaving yolk exposed. Repeat with remaining 5 eggs, working around pan as you go. Season eggs with a little salt, cover, reduce heat to lowest setting, and cook until egg whites are barely set and yolks are still runny, 5 to 8 minutes.

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  3. Sprinkle with remaining cilantro or parsley, along with any of the optional toppings. Serve immediately with crusty bread.

Special equipment

Deep 10-inch skillet with matching lid, or 3-quart straight-sided lidded sauté pan

Notes

To crush the tomatoes, transfer to a large bowl and squeeze through your fingers to create a chunky purée. Alternatively, leave whole, add to the pan, and use a pastry blender to cut the tomatoes directly in the pan.

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