Have you ever tried shakshuka? It’s a North African specialty similar to the Italian dish Eggs in Purgatory (Uova in Purgatorio). Shakshuka is basically eggs poached in a quick, spiced-up, homemade tomato sauce.
In late-summer, shakshuka is also a great way to incorporate some more garden bounty into your meal.
I use two kinds of tomatoes in my shakshuka: plum tomatoes, because their flesh is so meaty, and a beefsteak tomato for its flavor and juiciness. Whir them in a blender or food processor and then simmer into a sauce with sautéed scallions and garlic.
At this point, you can add what you have available: spinach leaves, coarsely chopped if they’re large; fennel, shaved into strips; or something golden, like pattypan squash, summer squash, or golden zucchini, very thinly sliced. The extra vegetables make the tomato sauce substantial and chunky.
When it’s time to poach the eggs in the sauce, use the back of a spoon to create four shallow indents for the eggs to sink into. They’re finished when the whites are just set, but the yolks are still runny. Garnish with dabs of pesto and fresh basil leaves.
1 Blend the tomatoes: Blend the plum and beefsteak tomatoes in a blender or food processor until they are saucy (you should have about 3 cups).
2 Cook the tomato sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the scallions and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add garlic, salt, black pepper, red pepper, cumin, and paprika. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute more.
Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until they stop sizzling. Add 1/4 cup of water. Lower the heat and simmer the sauce for 5 minutes. If the mixture seems dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
3 Prepare the squash or pattypan: Trim top and bottom from the quash and cut into quarters. If using a yellow squash or zucchini, remove the column of seeds from the center (the pattypan has fewer seeds, so it’s OK to leave them in). Very thinly slice the vegetables.
4 Add the squash to the tomato sauce. Stir well and continue cooking for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Add more water, if needed.
5 Cook the eggs: Break each egg into its own individual cup. Use the back of a spoon to make 4 indentations in the tomato mixture, then carefully pour one egg to each indentation, being careful not to break the yolk. Cover the pan and cook over medium heat for 8 minutes or until the whites are set (the yolks will still be runny).
6 Serve: Garnish the dish with dabs of pesto and fresh basil leaves. Serve straight from the pan to individual dishes.