Backyard Herbal Shakshuka
I love mornings. I try to wake up early so I can make coffee, sit around, sipping and encouraging my brain to wake up. I'm usually not very productive till about 4 pm, when a jolt of energy strikes and I finally start getting my work done.
Making breakfast is a big part of my morning ritual. I typically devote a pretty hefty portion of my morning to it because breakfast, for me, is a necessary way to begin my day. Plus, it really allows me to get creative with food.
Like most Americans, I discovered shakshuka in a cookbook - or maybe it was social media, I honestly don't remember. I was immediately struck by the simplicity and sweet beauty of the dish and it's become a weekly ritual for me an my partner, Connor. Shakshuka, traditional North African dish that was introduced and made popular in the Middle East. Shakshuka - or shakshouka - translates to "stuck together" or "mixture" in Arabic. In Israel, it is traditionally served with challah bread (my favorite), but since I don't often have challah on hand, I'll make some flatbread or pick up a loaf of sourdough.
Once the shakshuka is ready, I'll heap a hefty portion of greens such as mint or parsley on top. And since they're in season, I also like to pick fresh violet leaves from the backyard. Violet leaves are high in both Vitamins C & A and have a mucilage quality that is full of fiber. They have a slightly creamy and very earthy flavor that offset the brightness of mint in a really beautiful way. You could also add fresh lemon balm, which is helps soothe the nerves and has a zingy citrus and mint flavor. Backyard medicine at its best.
1 can diced tomatoes (preferably unsalted)
1 tomato or 1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 red pepper, sliced
1 tbs minced garlic
1 tbs honey
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
Fresh mint or parsley
Fresh violet leaves or lemon balm
1 tsp ghee
Salt, pepper & paprika to taste
Soft chèvre or feta
Heat up a medium sized cast iron pan (non stick works too), then melt ghee. Add onions and peppers and sauté until soft. Combine honey, balsamic and garlic then stir till honey has melted. Pour in canned and fresh tomatoes. Season to your liking and let simmer till tomato juice has evaporated. Crack eggs in into tomato mixture then either cover the pan with a lid or place in a preheated oven (350ºF/176ºC). Cook eggs until the yolks have set. (I prefer my yolks just a tiny bit runny, but cook to your liking.) Remove skillet from heat and garnish with greens and cheese. Serve warm with a loaf of crusty bread for dipping.