Uova in purgatorio / Shakshuka

This isn’t a recipe as much as a general roadmap towards breakfast nirvana: eggs, baked until just set, with a custardy centre, in a robust spicy tomato sauce, served with lots of toasted bread. Whether you call it eggs in purgatory, or shakshuka, the concept is the same; it’s comfort in a cast-iron pan, and fairly easy to pull together on short notice.

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Notes: This is my go-to breakfast dish to feed 3-4 people (you’re limited by the size of your cast iron pan). I vary the ingredients based on what I have to hand: the onions, canned tomatoes and eggs are obligatory, everything else is pretty much optional. If you’re using feta then make sure the sauce is ever so slightly under-salted, so that the final dish is well balanced; you can also add/swap the feta for cheddar, or parmesan. I love that the feta keeps its shape even after cooking, and gives a little salty-umami kick to the dish. Similarly with the spices, I added cumin because I love its taste, you could change the spice profile to suit your tastes. This recipe is loosely inspired by the gorgeous-looking eggs in purgatory recipe at Smitten Kitchen and the NYT’s take on Shakshuka, although I went in a more “Indian-inspired” direction. I also skipped baking the eggs, and cooked the entire dish on the stovetop. If you’d prefer to bake it, put the skillet in a warm (180°C / 350°F) oven for 7-9 minutes after adding the eggs.

Uova in purgatorio / Shakshuka

2 large red onions
2 cans of chopped tomatoes
3-4 cloves of garlic (to taste)
2-3 chillies, red and green (deseeded if you’d like it milder)
6 medium eggs
Feta cheese
1 heaped tsp Cumin seeds
Small bunch of fresh coriander
Small handful of fresh oregano if available
Prep time: 5-10 min; Cook time: 40-45 min. Inspired by Smitten Kitchen and NYT recipes.

Slice the onions finely, mince the garlic and deseed (if needed) and chop the chillies. Add oil to a cast-iron skillet and heat. Once hot, add the cumin seeds, garlic, chillies and onions, and lower to medium heat. Allow the onions to soften (10-15 mins), and then add the chopped tomatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste at this point (see notes above). Allow the sauce to cook down until its thickened, it should end up with the consistency of a runny jam (about 15 mins). Add the coriander, oregano (if using) and stir through the crumbled feta.

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Use your spatula to create little craters in the mixture, and break an egg into each. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for another 5-8 minutes until the eggs are cooked to your liking. Sprinkle some sumac and coriander on top, and serve with hot toasted bread, or warm pitas.

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