If one lives in a college town ..
no matter the date on the calendar .. nor the reading on the thermometer
Summer begins as finals week comes to a close and the last of the u-hauls head out-of-town. Overnight, the population is reduced by half .. with those left behind settling in and spreading out a bit .. if only in our minds
Such was the backdrop this week .. as the weather turned warmer .. the space heater in my office swapped for a fan .. our Farmer's Market saw it's opening day .. and people took to their bikes to get around town
“What's for dinner?” .. brought vibrant summery foods to mind .. one I'm looking forward to in particular .. a fresh out-of-the-garden tomato
I couldn't help but think of Shakshuka
Versions of this North African dish are plentiful .. the most popular involve softly cracked eggs .. cooked in a hot skillet of spiced tomato sauce .. ready to be sopped up by hunks of crusty bread. If one is a traditionalist .. the eggs will be just set but not quite solid .. their yokes still wiggling and ready to flow with the merest suggest of contact with a fork
I've learned the sauce is best made in advance .. its flavors improving dramatically with time .. a bag or two stashed away in the freezer is never a bad thing. A cheap .. quick .. and flavorful meal .. ready in less than 15 minutes
A few notes about the sauce .. there are many ways one could take it. Lots of recipes add sautéed or blended veggies to round to the flavors or use up what's in the fridge .. .. though here .. I'm in tomato purist
The Chef loves heat .. and we're both suckers for interesting blends that bring depth of flavor. So we've taken to a variety that includes harissa ..
Keep in mind .. as you head into this recipe that the range of harasses available for purchase is vast .. trust your taste buds. One tube might be tastelessly tomato-y .. the next tongue-torchingly hot.
That said .. the road to a great harissa is to make your own .. and I've included our recipe here .. though I'd be lying if I said I'm religious about it. Hence .. a walk to our ethnic grocery every now & again.
~ Adapted from the guardian .. here
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- <span class="mceItemHidden" data-mce-bogus="1">2 Tbsp harissa</span>
- 2 tsp tomato paste
- 2 large red peppers cut into 1/4 inch pieces
- 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 5 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
- 4 large eggs plus 4 egg yolks
- <span class="mceItemHidden" data-mce-bogus="1">1/2 c <span class="hiddenSpellError" pre="c ">labneh</span> or greek yogurt</span>
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil for drizzling over the top just before serving
- <span class="mceItemHidden" data-mce-bogus="1">Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the harissa, tomato paste peppers, garlic, cumin, and 3/4 tsp salt.</span>
- Stir & cook over medium heat for about 8 minutes to allow the peppers to soften
- Add the tomatoes, bring to a gently simmer, and cook for a further 10 minutes until you have quite a thick sauce. Taste for seasoning.
- Make 8 little dips in the sauce. Gently break the eggs and carefully pour each into its own dip. Do the same with the yolks.
- Use a fork to swirl the egg whites a little bit with the sauce, taking care not to break the yolks.
- Simmer gently for 8-10 minutes, until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still runny (you can cover the pan with a lid if you'd like to hasten the process)
- <span class="mceItemHidden" data-mce-bogus="1">Remove front he heat, leave for a couple of minutes to settle, drizzle with sesame oil, then spoon into individual plates & serve with <span class="hiddenSpellError" pre="with ">labneh</span> or yogurt.</span>
- 4 ounces dried chiles equal amounts of New Mexico, guajillo and chipotle chiles
- 5 cloves garlic peeled
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 1/2 tsp caraway seeds freshly ground
- 1 1/2 tsp coriander seeds freshly ground
- 2 Tbsp olive oil plus extra for when storing
- Place the chiles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water .. letting them rest until softened, about 30 minutes.
- Drain, then remove the seeds and stems from the chiles. (** Don't forget to wear latex or rubber gloves)
- Place the seeded and stemmed chiles, along with the garlic, into your food processor and pulse a few times.
- Add the salt, caraway and coriander.
- Process until smooth, pouring the olive oil into the feeding tube on top as you blend. (** Add a little water if necessary to achieve the right consistency .. which should be that of a thick paste)
- To store, top off with a thin layer of olive oil and refrigerate.