Shakshouka, the North African dish of eggs baked in a tomato and pepper sauce, is an Israeli favorite and a tasty addition to holiday menus. As a vegetarian main dish or a starter for a holiday meal, for Yom Kippur break-fast or to eat in the sukkah, this Mostly Make-Ahead Shakshouka feeds a crowd, and its vegetable base can be made in advance and even frozen.
Two experiences helped shape the recipe. The first was at a small hotel in southern Israeli where I noticed the owner kept a stockpile of her delicious shakshouka base in the freezer. The second was at a cooking class at the Abraham Hostel in Tel Aviv, where I learned about shakshouka seasonings, the technique of heating the vegetables before adding the oil and much more — including that challah mops up the sauce much better than pita bread.
There are as many versions of shakshouka as there are people who make it, so feel free to experiment. For a milder shakshouka, leave out or reduce the chili or cayenne.
Mostly Make-Ahead Shakshouka
Serves 6-12 (main or side)
- 3 lbs. ripe, large red tomatoes
- 2½ cups chopped onions (¼-inch pieces)
- 2 Tbs. finely chopped garlic
- 4 cups chopped red and or yellow peppers (¼-inch pieces)
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 jalapeño chili, finely chopped OR ¼ tsp. ground cayenne, optional
- ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
- ½ tsp. salt, or to taste
- ½ tsp. paprika
- ¾ tsp. ground cumin
- 1 Tbs. tomato paste or as needed
- ¼ tsp. sugar OR 1 Tbs. lemon juice, as needed
Chop tomatoes into ¼- to ½-inch pieces. Place in 12-inch fry or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often, until tomatoes soften and exude liquid. Add onions and garlic. Sauté 2-3 minutes and add peppers and chili. Sauté, stirring often, until peppers begin to soften. Stir in oil, cayenne, black pepper, salt, paprika and cumin. Bring to simmer. Cover and keep at simmer until vegetables are very soft. Stir in tomato paste, cooking a few minutes more. Mixture should be like a thick pasta sauce. If not, add tomato paste or water by the tablespoon to thicken or thin. Add salt if needed. If too acid, add sugar. If too sweet, add lemon juice. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze.
Finishing and Serving
- Make-Ahead Base
- ½ cup chopped parsley, divided
- 12 large eggs in shell, room temperature
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup Tahini Sauce (see notes), optional
- Challah or other bread
If frozen, defrost vegetable base. (Chilled base can be used directly from the refrigerator.)
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Mix half of the parsley into base, stirring well. Transfer vegetables and sauce to large, rectangular baking dish (approximately 9×13-inch). Bake until bubbling and hot. Have ready 3 saucers or small plates.
Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees. Remove dish from oven. Press down with the back of a serving spoon to make 12 depressions (three rows of four each) in the sauce. Break one egg into each saucer, being careful to keep yolk intact. Slide each egg into an indentation. Repeat with remaining eggs. Return dish to 350-degree oven.
Bake uncovered until egg whites are opaque and yolks are set but still runny (test with a toothpick at 20-25 minutes and at intervals afterward). Timing will vary; it usually takes about 30-40 minutes. Sprinkle eggs with salt and pepper. Scatter remaining parsley on top. Serve with Tahini Sauce and challah.
Notes: The Tahini Sauce recipe can be found here.