Shakshuka which translates as "mixture" in Egyptian Arabic, is a dish very common in the Middle East. It's simply a mess of eggs poached in tomatoes, greens, bell peppers and onions. What I like about this flavorsome dish is that it's traditionally prepared in a cast-iron pan. Of course, you can use any adequate deep skillet if cast-iron is not your thing. In North Africa they use an earthenware pot. Either way, it's a glorious mix which can also include spicy sausage (a Spanish innovation) or salty cheeses. In Israel, it's a popular breakfast dish served with challah bread.

Another thing I like about shakshuka is that you can add or change anything to it. So it works for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Caribbean shakshuka would add oregano, garlic and parsley. French shakshuka could add a hollandaise sauce, Mexican shakshuka could add re-fried beans.You get the idea, It's versatile, quick, and delicious. What more could you want?


1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into strips
1 teaspoon brown sugar
I bay leaf
2 tablespoons chopped scallions
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried
4 medium tomatoes, cored and chopped, or 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon saffron thread (or can substitute turmeric)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bunch spinach, washed and sliced into ribbons
1 15-ounce can white kidney beans, drained
4 to 8 eggs, depending on how many servings
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
4 ounces crumbled feta cheese (can substitute goat cheese, Parmesan, Asiago, or Romano)

1. In a large cast-iron skillet, toast cumin seeds over high heat for approximately 2 minutes. Lower heat to medium, add oil and onion. Sauté until onion is soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add bell peppers, sugar, bay leaf, scallions, and thyme. Cook over high heat, stirring until peppers are browned (6-8 minutes).
2. Add tomatoes, saffron and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. If mixture becomes too dry, add a little water.
3. Remove bay leaf. Stir in spinach, reduce heat to low, and cook  for 4-5 minutes until spinach is wilted.
5. Stir in beans. Increase heat to medium, and bring mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat to low. With the back of a large spoon, make evenly spaced shallow hollows for as many eggs as you are using. Carefully crack each egg into a hollow. Season each egg with salt and pepper, cover pan and cook gently until eggs are set (10-12 minutes).
6. Spread cheese over mixture. Allow heat to soften the cheese, and serve shakshuka with crusty bread.
    Servings: 4 or more.

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