Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Shakshuka :: Baked Eggs in Tomato Sauce with Creamed Spinach and Kale :: Healthy one-pot meal

There are a lot of reasons to make shakshuka, an Israeli / Tunisian / Moroccan dish of eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce. You could make it because you are lazy like me and love digging into something which is easy and quick to make. Or you could not be lazy, and love to plan a hearty meal ahead with Shakshouka,  some Soup, salad and bread for a Family brunch. Or simply because it combines all your favourite things together into one wholesome dish.

Whatever be the reason,  I suggest you make it because it turns out really, really good from your own kitchen. Fantastically good. And not only is it easy to make, it’s budget-friendly, waistline-friendly and no-time-to-cook friendly. It could be a weekend brunch or a weekday dinner or lunch or a “I can’t believe we are being assaulted with a chilli breeze in June!” consolation prize. It could be part of an Middle Eastern dinner party, replete with homemade salad, pitas and hummus or it could be a “my favorite takeout joint had the nerve to close for a holiday!” pity party. It will always be good and comforting, take my word for that ! J J

Now, what is Shakshuka:-

If you haven’t heard of Shakshuka before, you are in for a treat with this dish. Eggs are slowly cooked in a cumin flavoured tomato sauce and it all becomes a sweet, spicy and protein packed one-pot-dinner that you eat with a piece of bread on the side. It’s a great and simple budget recipe that easily takes care of any leftover vegetables you might have lying around. All you need are a few very basic ingredients; onion, garlic, clove, basil, chili, 2 cans of whole peeled tomatoes and eggs. If you got that, you are good to go. 

Now if you can find some fresh kale, fresh spinach (or frozen), bell pepper, fresh tomatoes, cauliflower or any other type of vegetable, they can be added as well. Be inventive. Try new variations. If you would happen to find a pinch of saffron in your budget pantry (mmm likely), it takes the tomato sauce to another dimension. If you are willing to add any cheese to it – try Feta Cheese. It softens but doesn’t melt when it’s baked in the oven, creating creamy, salty nuggets strewn among the tomato-sauce-lapped eggs. Although I haven’t tried it, I imagine that a soft, fresh goat cheese will also work if cut into pieces before being added to the pan.

That’s just the basic recipe, but the one I have prepared today is a bit different. Different in terms that it contains some creamed Spinach along with the tomato, bell peppers stuff. So this one is a “Shakshuka with kale and creamed spinach”. Simple, and healthy !  Don’t get startled  with the long list of ingredients used in this recipe. If we take one thing at a time, its just so easy and make in a jiffy dish. You may prepare the creamed spinach and tomato sauce in advance and when its time to serve, crack the eggs in between and bake it in the oven.  

So let’s make the creamed spinach first :- I have turned this popular and favourite dish into a low fat version since the end result with Shakshuka was already laden with so much .. 

Ingredients for making low fat creamed spinach : 
  • 2 cups of whole milk
  • 2 cups packed spinach
  • 1 bay leaf
  • A small onion , chopped roughly
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced or chopped small
  • 2 tbsp  butter
  • 2 tbsp All-purpose flour
  • Salt to taste
  • A generous pinch of black pepper
  • A small pinch of Nutmeg
How to make Low fat creamed Spinach:  
  • Make a white sauce by warming  milk in a pan with a bay leaf, chopped onion and minced Garlic cloves.
  • Just before it boils, remove from the heat and leave to infuse.
  • Melt butter in a saucepan, stir in All-purpose flour and mix to a thin paste, then whisk in the milk. Keep stirring over a low heat till the sauce thickens.
  • Season with salt, black pepper and nutmeg and mix.
  • In the meanwhile, take spinach and blanch in Microwave for 2-3  minutes  till tender. Wring out any water, roughly chop, then stir into the cream sauce. Keep stirring till the sauce takes on a green colour, check the seasoning and serve or keep aside for Shakshuka 

Right  ! So now when we have mastered the art of making delicious and creamy creamed spinach, let’s work on how we can add it to Shakshouka. In a well equipped kitchen you should find most of the ingredients listed below and it shouldn't be too difficult to find the others in a supermarket nearby and although the list does seem lengthy, most of it is herbs so should not be any hassle.

Prep Time: 30-40 mins ( including both white sauce and tomato sauce ) 
Cooking Time: 15-20 mins   ( assembling and baking ) 
Serves: 3-4 people /servings
Cuisine:-  Israeli / Tunisian / Moroccan / African 
Spice Level: Mild to Medium
Recipe Level: Moderate / Intermediate 
Shelf Life: 12-20 hours at room temperature. 
Serving Suggestion: With Soup, Salad, Fresh breads 

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 3 red/ green chillies, chopped
  • 5 sliced cloves of garlic
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika ( Or red Chili powder )
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to season
  •  ½ cup tomato puree  
  • 1 bell pepper ( red or yellow capsicum), chopped very small
  • 1 tsp honey (optional)
  • 1 handful of fresh Kale leaves
  • 1 cup of creamed spinach
  • 1 can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 100 gr mature Cheddar , grated 
  • 50 gr Feta Cheese - optional 
  • 4 eggs
  • chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley ( or coriander leaves)  

How to make?

Preparing the Tomato sauce:
  • Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the onions and chillies and sauté till brown and translucent
  • Add the garlic and spices (cumin, paprika, turmeric, salt and pepper). Cook it until fragrant and stir once in a while so that the spices won’t burn.
  • Stir in the tomato paste and honey and cook for another 3-4 minutes, covered.
  • Add the tomatoes and bell peppers along with half a cup of water. Combine everything and let it simmer on low to medium heat for about 20 minutes.
  • Add about 100 gram of the feta crumbles into the mixture and stir. In a minute it will start getting thicker, turn off the heat and keep aside 
Assembling it all together:
  • Take a wide pan, sprinkle some fresh kale leaves and pour in the creamed spinach over them.
  • Now spread the tomato sauce we prepared on top evenly with the help of a  flat spatula.
  • Create four small holes in the mixture and crack your eggs inside.
  • Cover the eggs with some of the sauce being careful not to disturb the yolk.
  • Sprinkle some grated Cheddar on top and  bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 Degrees  for 10-12 minutes until the Egg white gets properly cooked but the yolk is a tad bit runny.
  • Sprinkle the parsley and the remaining feta on top of your pan and serve it with fresh bread, for dipping.

Some Notes and Tips: 
  • Fresh spinach is essential for Creamed spinach, the frozen variety won’t do any good. Remove tough stalks and ropey leaves. Ensure the leaves are wrung out to remove excess water before chopping.
  • Season the sauce with plenty of bay, black pepper and clove and cook it slowly so it thickens properly.
  • You may skip bell peppers / capsicums in the tomato sauce or simply use a canned Tomato sauce 
  • I will post a recipe shortly without creamed spinach and kale 

Reposting to link to Srivalli's event - Come, join for Breakfast 


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