At breakfast in Morocco recently, I was drawn to row after row of lipstick-red mini tagines. I lifted the lid on one and to my delight saw eggs that looked like they had been basted, nesting in a bed of luscious tomato sauce.
After the first bite, I decided that I had to make these. I didn’t know what they were called but when I described them to a foodie friend, she said, “Ah, you’re talking about ‘shakshuka’.” Usually when attempting something new, I consult lots of recipes. This time, I consulted nothing. I simply remembered the taste of the sauce and proceeded.
The sauce has very few ingredients but several steps. It combines canned diced tomatoes, fresh garlic, double strength tomato paste and of course harissa. Everything is simmered in a large saucepan, cooled and then put in a blender or Vitamix to puree. It is then reheated, reduced slightly, thickened and kept on the stove until ready to combine with eggs.
Enough sauce is put in a lidded 3-quart flat saucepan and the eggs are carefully broken directly into the sauce. The lid is replaced and the eggs allowed to cook. It’s served right from the pan. This makes enough sauce to make several batches, at least three batches with 4 eggs in each pan. This is the only dish we ran out of on New Year’s Day. Enough said.
EVENT: New Year’s Day Brunch
SERVES: 12-16 People
5 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes *
2 tablespoons double strength tomato paste **, or 4 tablespoons for regular tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons harissa
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
Fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 ½ dozen eggs
3-quart sauté pan with lid
1. Heat the olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat and add the crushed garlic and harissa.
2. Stir and allow to cook for about 2 minutes.
3. Add crushed tomatoes and tomato paste.
4. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook about 10 minutes. Stir to mix.
5. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. When cool, puree in blender or Vitamix.
6. Return to large saucepan and cook on low heat for 10 minutes, uncovered, to allow sauce to thicken.
7. Taste, correct with salt and pepper. Spoon 1/3 of sauce into 3-quart sauté pan and warm over low heat. Sauce should fill the pan, creating a bed for the eggs.
8. Using large spoon, make indentations in sauce and carefully break one egg into each indentation.
9. Cover with lid and continue to cook over low heat until eggs whites are set. Remove from heat for 2 minutes to allow dish to settle.
10. Garnish with chopped parsley.
11. Repeat two more times.
* A NOTE: I buy the canned diced tomatoes at Costco.
** ANOTHER NOTE: I buy double strength tomato paste in a tube because it seems to stay fresh longer than the cans.