The first properly warm and sunny weekend of 2016, coupled with a friend’s birthday, called for a celebratory brunch. When it comes to brunch with this particular group of friends, we usually go for the classic: Scotch pancakes (aka drop scones), piled high with crispy bacon and maple syrup. Delicious, but not ideal for the cook, who spends the majority of the meal sweating over a hot stove, churning out a production line of pancakes and ending up with the bits of bacon no-one else wanted – no fun! This has led me to conclude that one-pot brunches are the answer – when you’re hosting a crowd, you need a quick, easy and delicious dish that you can serve up straight away. Enter: shakshuka.
I’ve come across more complicated – and more authentic – recipes for shakshuka, but I love this one because most of the ingredients are likely to already be in your store cupboard; and the method really only has two very simple stages: (1) make the tomato sauce; (2) add the eggs and cook. Easy. It’s also absolutely delicious!
I served the shakshuka alongside little bowls of fried chorizo slices, crumbled feta, and cubes of avocado. Your guests can then personalise their brunch exactly to their liking! Other ideas for DIY toppings are:
- Frozen sweetcorn, cooked in a pan with a little oil and chilli until slightly blackened
- Fried halloumi slices
- Halved cherry tomatoes drizzled with balsamic vinegar
- Rocket with a squeeze of lemon juice
- Pieces of crispy fried bacon or pancetta
- Natural or Greek yogurt scattered with chopped chives…
Serve the shakshuka and toppings with some good crusty bread for the perfect spring-has-sprung brunch!
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 3 tins of chopped tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- Scant sprinkle of cayenne chilli pepper
- 1 tsp red wine vinegar
- Sea salt and pepper
- 6 eggs
- Chopped flat leaf parsley
- Heat the olive oil in a large, deep pan over a medium heat.
- Add the diced onion and soften for a few minutes before adding the chopped garlic. Cook for a further couple of minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the diced red pepper and saute for 3 or 4 minutes.The vegetables should soften but not brown.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato puree, along with the sugar, cumin, cayenne chilli pepper, smoked paprika and red wine vinegar, then simmer for 10 minutes, stirring often, until the sauce reduces a little. Season to taste with salt and pepper. This is a good moment to leave the sauce on a low heat for a while, until about 10 minutes before you’d like to serve up.
- When you’re ready, crack the eggs evenly over the tomatoes. Put a lid on the pan and cook on a low heat for 10 minutes, or until the whites are cooked but the yolks are still slightly runny.
- Serve immediately, scattered with the parsley and seasoned with a little more salt and pepper.