One of the wonderful things about brunch is how you can explore different cultures based on their recipes. Every country and often even regions inside countries have their favourite breakfast offerings, based on their history, culture, and what ingredients they have readily available.
Here in North America, we don’t generally do a ton of spice with breakfast. We tend towards the sweet more than the savoury, and even if breakfast is savoury, it’s usually not spicy. This is not true in other cultures–spice is embraced–even first thing in the morning.
Shakshouka is popular in the middle east, and also in Africa. This savoury breakfast consists of creating a tomato-based sauce that usually contains vegetables and spices, and then baking eggs in it. Once you nail this basic recipe, you can riff on it to your heart’s delight: adding in different vegetables, spices, even cheeses. A crumbled feta would be lovely sprinkled over this at the end. Crusty bread is usually served alongside to sop up the sauce.
- olive oil for frying
- 1 small onion, halved and cut in half-moon slices
- 1 red, green or orange bell pepper, seeded and sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 1/2 tsp paprika
- cayenne pepper (optional, to taste)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 14 oz can plum tomatoes, roughly chopped, with juices
- 4 eggs
- chopped coriander or green onions for garnish
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Heat the oil in a large cast iron frying pan over medium heat, then add the onion and bell pepper. Turn the heat down to low and allow them to cook slowly for about 20 minutes until they are soft.
- Add the garlic and stir well. Add the spices and stir well for 2 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, stir well, and then allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, until thickened.
- Remove from heat, and then gently make 4 impressions in the sauce with the back of a spoon. Carefully crack eggs into each of the holes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the oven for 7-10 minutes, until the eggs are set, but still runny.
- Remove from oven, garnish and serve with crusty bread.