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SHAKSHUKA

Ingredients

4 pita breads, cut into wedges

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 small onion, chopped

1 large leek, white and light green parts chopped

4 large garlic cloves, chopped

1 red or orange bell pepper, chopped

1, 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes

¾ teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon cumin

2 tablespoons harissa sauce

1-pound thin asparagus spears, woody ends cut off and stems cut into 1-2” pieces

2 cups baby spinach leaves, packed

6 eggs

2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

2 tablespoons mint leaves, chopped if large

1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled

¼ cup scallions

¼ cup pea shoots

1 avocado, sliced

Instructions

Shakshuka is a traditional Middle Eastern/North African dish that consists of eggs poached in a richly seasoned (and slightly spicy) tomato and bell pepper sauce.  Shakshuka means ‘mixture’ and can be customized in many different ways.  Traditional seasonings include paprika, cumin, and harissa (depending the region).  Meats and other vegetables are sometimes added – such as the asparagus and spinach that I have included here.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil and spread the pita bread wedges in a single layer on the foil.  Brush the tops with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and lightly season with salt.  Bake for 5-6 minutes until lightly toasted.  Remove and set aside.

Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large deep skillet (that has a cover which you will need later).  Add the onions, leeks, garlic, and bell peppers to the pan.  Cook, stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes until the veggies are soft and fragrant.

Add the tomatoes to the pan, breaking them up with a spatula or potato masher.  Add ½ teaspoon of the salt, ¼ teaspoon of the black pepper, the paprika, cumin, and harissa sauce to the pan and continue to cook, stirring frequently.  Reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, allowing the sauce to thicken.  It will be done when you pull the sauce aside with a spoon in the pan and a ‘well’ forms where you can see the bottom of the pan (this will hold the eggs in place when you crack them into the sauce).

Add the asparagus and spinach to the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes more, tossing until the spinach has wilted.  Using a large spoon make a well in the sauce and crack one egg into it.  Repeat for the other 5 eggs, spreading them equidistant in the sauce.  Season the tops of the eggs with the remaining salt and pepper.

Turn the heat back to medium high and cover the pan.  Let the eggs cook in the sauce for 5-6 minutes until the whites are set, by the yolks are still soft.  If you like your yolks hard, you can cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.

Remove from heat and garnish the top of the dish with the cilantro, mint, feta, scallions, pea shoots, and avocado.

Serve hot with pita wedges on the side.

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