As far as food trends go, brunch has always been in style. Waking up slightly later on a Sunday and having a meal that combines the best of breakfast and lunch gives you endless possibilities. I’ve had white wine mussels courtesy of Etoile in Uptown Houston, oysters and Mexican inspired egg’s benedict at Hugo’s in Montrose, Vietnamese style steak and eggs and a giant scratch made biscuit with homemade marmalade and crème fraiche at Blacksmith. Wash it all down with a bubbly mimosa and/or strong coffee and you have a great start to your week. You do not have to go out to have brunch either- it is so easy to throw together a brunch for one or for one hundred, if you’re that ambitious. Brunch is so integrated in our food culture now that I’d move brunch from “trend” to “tradition”. In my entire lifetime, I have only met one person who is averse to brunch. It’s a part of American food culture, and I think brunch is here to stay.
So if brunch is tradition, what would be a food trend? Introducing shakshuka. A 180 from your typical poached egg brunch dish, eggs benedict, Shaksuka is a dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions. Shakshuka’s origins can be traced to Libyan, Egyptian, Tunisian, Algerian, and Moroccan cuisines. It’s intensely flavorful and can be customized according to your tastes and dietary restrictions. Just prep the ingredients, cook, and serve in one pan alongside with toasted bread, and you’ve got a great meal. Shakshuka is not overly heavy as most brunch dishes typically are, yet you still get the “comfort food” factor, which is why I think this dish is gaining popularity. Pay attention and you’ll start to see versions of eggs poached in some sort of tomato base everywhere.
I first tried Shakshuka at The Allis at the SOHO House in Chicago. I wanted something substantial but not too heavy, and my eyes fell right towards the description of shakshuka on the menu. I had no regrets, and cleaned my plate. It wasn’t till a few months later when I watched a video on Youtube by Sorted Food on the dish that I started to crave it again. I went to the grocery store and made my version the next morning. After my post cooking ritual of taking a dozen or so photos, I sat down on the floor in front of my photo set up and devoured it, ripping warm, soft pieces of bread and dipping them into the pan, slowly breaking the egg yolk and watching it slowly combine with the spiced tomato sauce. There were so many flavors and textures- creamy, tangy, sweet, salty, soft, crunchy- this dish had it all. One of my favorite spices is cumin, and I am so glad I toasted pine nuts with cumin before sprinkling them on top of the shakshuka. Magic.
After my little affair with shakshuka, I started to see it pop up more often-one of my high school English teachers made it with her kids, and I saw fellow food lover and friend Isabel create a beautiful shakshuka as part of her Whole30 challenge.
So obviously as you’re reading this you assume that you’ll be getting a shakshuka recipe. You assume correct.
But wait! There’s more!
I made the shakshuka for myself; using half the ingredients I needed left me with enough to make another helping. I decided use the same ingredients to make a beef stirfry instead. This you can opt out of beef and use chicken, fish, more veggies, etc. It was perfect over a bowl of steaming rice for lunch.
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tbsp of pine nuts
- ½ onion, chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbs tomato paste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1tbsp parsley
- 2 tbsp feta
- Chopped cilantro/parsley/green onion for garnish
1) Toast cumin seeds and pine nuts in a pan over high heat for about 5-10 min, swirling the pan occasionally. Transfer to a plate to cool.
2) Lower the heat to medium and in the same pan, cook the onion, garlic, and red pepper in olive oil until soft. Season with salt and pepper.
3) Add tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, cumin, paprika, and parsley. Continue to let the entire thing simmer. If it looks like the dish is too dry, add a little bit of water or veggie/chicken stock. There needs to be just enough liquid to poach the eggs in, but not too much.
4) Using a spoon, create 2 wells in the pan and crack the eggs over each well. Cover the pan with the lid and cook for about 5-6 minutes, checking occasionally to see if the egg whites are cooked through, and the egg yolk is soft.
5) Place pan on a wooden board or heatproof surface/potholder and top with chopped herbs, feta, and pine nuts/cumin seeds. Serve immediately with toasted bread.
Tomato & Beef Stirfry
- Same ingredients as above, except feta, pine nuts, and eggs.
- Add protein of your choice. I used beef (tenderloin).
1) Prepare tomato base as instructed above.
2) Instead of using eggs, add your protein. In this case, I used beef tenderloin. Cook the beef in the tomato sauce until cooked through (about 10-15 min depending on the cut of meat), letting the meat absorb all of the flavor and juices.
3) Top with cilantro and onions and serve over rice.