At the start of summer, I get way too excited about all the local farm tomatoes and peppers, and overly ambitious about all the ways I’m going to use them. Since we’ve been in quarantine, I’ve been missing the aromatic and subtly spicy Shakshuka my Turkish friend @yilmazcik, makes for our daily breakfast service. So, seems like a good way to use my overripe tomatoes and a lightly wrinkled bell peppers. Mr. @yilmazcik uses banana peppers or cubanelles for the heat in his recipe, so I use a bit of jalapeño in this one. With just a few other pantry staples, this recipe comes together easily. I like to add lentils, but you can also add some cooked meat or other types of beans or vegetables to the finished Shakshouka. The word Shakshouka is Arabic for “mixture” so I’m guessing there are endless variations! If you do use lentils, try French green lentils if you can. They hold their shape better than other varieties.
Green Lentil Shakshuka, serves 4 to 6
- 1 cup dry lentils (200 g)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (57 g)
- 1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced (250 g)
- 1 large sweet bell pepper, thinly sliced (180 g)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1-1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1-1/2 tsp. ground sweet paprika
- 2 large ripe tomatoes, diced (400 g)
- 14 oz. can crushed tomatoes (400 g)
- 1/2 jalapeno, thinly sliced
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
- 12 large eggs
- 1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a medium saucepan, bring 6 cups of water to a boil. Add the lentils and lower to a simmer. Cook until just tender – about 20 minutes for brown lentils or possibly 30 minutes if you are using green lentils. Season with a pinch of salt and set aside until needed.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet or flame proof casserole over medium heat. Add onions and bell pepper and toss to coat with oil. Lower heat to medium low and cook, about 15 minutes until soft. Occasionally stir the vegetables so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot or burn. When the onion-pepper mixture is soft and sweet, add garlic, cumin, and paprika, and cook until fragrant and sticky, about 1-2 minutes.
Stir in diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and jalapeno. Now grab yourself a cup of tea, bring the mixture to a simmer, let it cook for 15-20 minutes until the diced tomatoes have softened and the sauce has thickened slightly. Season with salt and pepper, and cayenne if you prefer more heat.
Drain the lentils and add to the sauce. Reheat, and taste the mixture, adding more salt and pepper if needed. Mix in a handful of chopped cilantro, reserving some for garnish. Carefully crack eggs directly into the skillet, or divide the sauce equally into 6 individual casseroles and crack two eggs in each. Bake 8-12 minutes if you like your eggs runny like I do, or longer if you like your eggs more well done. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.
By the way, @yilmazcik recommends listening to this Shakshouka song while you’re making it.