Last month we spent Hanukkah in Israel, where eggs commonly grace breakfast, lunch and dinner tables. Shakshouka — a spicy egg and tomato dish — is considered a national culinary treasure. We’ve added meaty butter beans, avocado and feta cheese for our own California-style version. (Leave out the feta cheese, and the recipe becomes parve.) Enjoy it as a first course, as a main course or even as a side dish.
For best results, leave the yolks a little runny. Butter beans resemble lima beans but are larger. Other firm-textured beans, such as kidney beans or chickpeas, make fine substitutes. And if you are using dried beans, remember to cook them well in advance.
Makes 4 servings
3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium green pepper, diced
1 can (12.5 ounces) butter beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. cumin
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. salt
8 medium fresh, ripe tomatoes, diced (about 4 cups)
½ cup water
1 avocado, diced
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large, ovenproof skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until transparent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the green pepper and sauté until it has softened, about 5 minutes. Add the butter beans, paprika, turmeric, cumin, cayenne and salt. Gently mix to coat all the ingredients evenly with the spices. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 2 more minutes.
Add the tomatoes, any juices that may have accumulated when dicing them, and the water. Raise the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil. Immediately return the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Uncover the pan and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes until the juice has thickened somewhat. It will have turned a darker shade of red.
Remove the pan from the heat. Carefully crack the eggs — trying not to break the yolks — one at a time over the beans and sauce, spacing them evenly apart. Transfer the skillet to the oven, uncovered. Rotate the pan after 3 minutes to ensure that the Shakshouka cooks evenly. Bake until the egg whites begin to firm up but the yolks are still runny, about 3 more minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and let sit for one minute to settle the eggs. Garnish with avocado, feta cheese (optional) and cilantro, spreading them evenly across the surface of the Shakshouka. Use a large spoon to scoop out the eggs with the beans and sauce, keeping the eggs on the top, unbroken. Garnish with pepper and serve with crusty, country bread for dipping.