In the Kitchen: Shakshuka

shakshuka 1

At the Tea & Trumpets residence, my husband does almost all of the cooking, in large part because he is an excellent cook and enjoys the process. When I cook, the food usually turns out edible, but there’s generally a lot of chaos in the lead up. Recently I was roasting us a whole chicken, and when we took it out of the oven my husband pointed out that I’d cooked the thing upside down. Three weeks later I tried to roast a chicken again and, taking it out of the oven I exclaimed, “Look at that chicken, beautifully right side up!” Which prompted my husband to point out that it was, in fact, upside down—again.

My trouble with chicken anatomy aside, I’ve been cooking more in the recent months. In efforts to be more mindful about what I eat, I realized that I need to be more actively involved in preparing my food. (I’ve also been working on educating myself on where my food comes from, but more on that later.) This week I successfully made a dinner that we liked so much I think it will be making its way into our regular rotation! This might be the only time you see a recipe on this blog, but I was so pleased with the results I had to share.

Shakshuka is both fun to say and eat. It’s a Middle Eastern tomato-based dish with eggs and feta cheese, all cooked in one skillet (easy clean up!). It’s delicious, hearty, quick and inexpensive. What’s not to love? I mostly followed Smitten Kitchen’s recipe, with a few variations.

Oversights that worked out just fine:

  • I didn’t have real garlic, so I used a bunch of garlic powder instead
  • I didn’t have parsley because I was tired and I couldn’t find the fresh herbs in my grocery store
  • I forgot to add the ½ cup of water until I’d already been simmering everything for 10 minutes. No worries! This dish could not be more forgiving. Added the water, cooked the whole thing for another 10 minutes.
  • I’m a little afraid of runny egg whites, so after adding the eggs, I baked the whole dish for 10 minutes, rather than let it cook on the stove top.

shakshuka 3

My one improvement on this dish and general cooking secret: Chickpeas. This is not a radical change; lots of people make this dish with chickpeas. But here’s the issue with adding chick peas to almost any dish—from the can, they have an unpleasant texture and can sometimes taste a bland. Unless you sautee them first.

Add some olive oil and onions to a pan on medium, let the onions soften, and add the chick peas. Let them cook for about 10 minutes, until they start to get ever so slightly toasted on the outside. This step gives them a great texture and a nice toasted, almost oaky flavor. I’ve used this in pasta and quinoa dishes, and now Shakshuka. Anytime I see a recipe that calls for chick peas, I do this first. (Whenever I’ve skipped this step in the past, I always regret it.)

shakshuka 2

So there you have it, my secret cooking skills: upside down chickens and roasted chick peas. Do you have any kitchen tricks and/or disaster stories to share? If you try this dish, please come back and let me know how it went!

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