Trying saying this five times fast: shakshuka, shakshuka, shakshuka. It’s a tongue twister of a name, referring to a dish of eggs poached in tomato sauce (which is thought to have North African origins). It’s a one-skillet meal—perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner—and while it might be hard to say, it’s really easy to make. In fact, it’s so easy even a kid could do it.
This week I’m delighted to feature a recipe from Melina Hammer’s new book, Kid Chef. Not only that, but I’m giving away a free copy of the book with a set of measuring cups and kid knives to two lucky winners (simply enter below for a chance to win)!! This book is right up my alley. It features made-from-scratch meals that can be mastered by budding young cooks and that will appeal to anybody looking for simple, quick, nutritious and delicious meals.
When I was a kid, I was the odd one watching PBS cooking shows in lieu of cartoons (except for Woody Wood Pecker—I adored that maddening little bird), and when the Food Network launched in the ‘90s I became instantly hooked. Today, there’s nothing weird about watching food shows, no matter your age. There are even competitive food shows geared towards and starring children, which I can’t quite get behind (for me, food is about sharing and love, not competition and prizes). Ella loves cooking shows, and whenever she’s sick we binge on PBS, which is still my favorite (admittedly, my crush on Jacques Pépin still goes strong). She’ll holler a play-by-play from the couch as I make her a cup of tea, “Mama, he just added the chocolate! Now he’s stirring it. You can’t forget to scrape the sides!”
The recipes in this book appeal to this new generation of young cooks and are a far cry from the Betty Crocker smiley-faced deviled eggs that I first made as a kid. Ella’s already tagged the recipes she wants to cook with me (at six, she’s still too young to tackle these on her own). From Breakfast Burrito Bar, to Banana-Maple Breakfast Quinoa (which I can’t wait to try), to Fresh Fish Tacos, Spring Rolls and Coconut Ice Pops (and much more), this is real food that I think kids and adults will love.
Shakshuka, or Tomato Egg Bake as Melina calls it (which is so much easier to say), makes for an awesome and easy weeknight dinner, especially since this version uses mostly pantry staples. The tomato sauce is seasoned with za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice blend of dried herbs, sesame seeds, sumac and spices. James’s Aunt and Uncle sent us a big bag of za’atar for Christmas, and I’ve been sprinkling it on everything from hummus, to roasted chicken, to plain yogurt as a dipping sauce. Here it gives the quick sauce loads of flavor, although you could certainly swap in other spices depending on what you have on hand (think chili powder for a Mexican version, or Italian seasoning for an Italian spin). The eggs get cooked right in the sauce until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny. It’s served with a dollop of yogurt, a sprinkle of cilantro and plenty of crusty bread to mop up the tomatoes and egg yolks. We all devoured it, and then wiped our plates clean.
Tomato Egg Bake (Shakshuka)
- 1 onion , chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves , chopped
- 1 28- ounce can whole , peeled tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon za’atar
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds , toasted and ground in a mortar and pestle, or 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4-5 eggs
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves , for garnish
- 2/3 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
- Crusty bread , torn, for serving
- Preheat the oven to 375˚F.
- In a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat, sauté the onion in the olive oil until golden and tender. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
- Add the tomatoes, and bring to a simmer. Add the za’atar and cumin, season with salt and pepper, and simmer uncovered for a few minutes, until the sauce thickens. Break the tomatoes into chunks using the edge of a wooden spoon. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed.
- Use a wooden spoon to make four to five nests in the sauce and crack an egg into each. Season the eggs with salt and pepper, and transfer the skillet to the oven. Cook for 7-10 minutes, or until the eggs are just set.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro and a few dollops of yogurt. Serve with bread to mop up the sauce and yolks.