Let me preface this by saying that I’ve had shakshuka in multiple different environments, prepared multiple different ways, and I’ve always found that it looked better than it tasted. Why, then, did I decide to make one myself? It was at least in part because it’s a beautiful dish to photograph, and I also had the perfect ingredient list on hand. That’s how most of my recipes come about: I’m faced with a set of ingredients that needs used, and I have to come up with a reasonable combination that produces a desirable result.
I’m not sure I can be friends with a person who doesn’t like tomatoes. That just seems downright ungodly. Even though my body puts up a bit of a fight when I consume an abundance of acidic foods, I can’t help myself. I must eat tomatoes when they’re in season. It’s downright criminal that I’m no longer able to enjoy a great caprese salad due to my dairy allergy, but by golly I’m still going to eat tomatoes and basil in hilarious quantities. And let’s not even get into the sheer number of zucchini and squash I purchase throughout the summer.
One of the local organic growers at the farmer’s market puts out pints of baby squash that I can’t escape. Following dumping 2-3 lbs of zucchini in my market tote from another grower, I inevitably find myself walking away with the cutest little basket of colorful squash despite having no need or plan for them. The great thing about zucchini and squash is that they’re mild enough to toss in with just about anything.
So when we found ourselves with a bunch of squash, tomatoes, eggs, basil, and bell pepper, I jumped into problem solving mode. The possibilities are endless with this arrangement of produce, from a frittata to a galette to a hash. But I wanted a challenge. I wanted to see if we were capable of concocting a proud shakshuka. We got warmed up by perusing a number of recipes online, and ended up combining a few of our favorites plus adding our own spin.
That’s where the roasted squash and cherry tomatoes came in. They’re the perfect size to roast whole, and they impart a different flavor profile and texture to a traditional tomato-based shakshuka. I prepared a simple flax-almond flatbread to accompany it, and we were downright blown away. Our tomatoes were so sweet and mellow, and the roasted squash was cooked to perfection. I think I could have hoovered down the entire pan in one sitting, but we found ourselves wanting to savor it so much that we had the self-discipline to save half of it for leftovers the next day. I can’t wait to make it again!
Shakshuka with Baby Squash
Ingredients – serves 4
- 1 pint baby squash
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 1 yellow onion
- 1 spicy chili
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 tsp ground cardamom
- 2 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp whole cumin seed
- 28oz whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 heirloom tomato
- 1 bunch basil
- 4 eggs
- Preheat oven to 450F.
- Arrange baby squash and cherry tomatoes in a single layer. Coat in olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Roast at 450F till squash is fork tender and tomatoes have blistered. Reduce heat to 350 F when finished.
- Meanwhile, fine slice a small yellow onion, red bell pepper, and spicy chili of your preference (we skipped the spicy chili.) Heat oil on high until shimmering and toss everything in the pan spread in a single layer. Salt heavily. Cook 6 minutes without touching to build char, stir once and cook 4 minutes without touching.
- Add thin sliced garlic (2 cloves) and cook 30 seconds. Add 2 tsp ground cardamom, 2 tsp paprika, and 2 tsp whole cumin seed. Cook 30 seconds until fragrant.
- Reduce heat and add 28 oz. can of whole peeled tomatoes (I like San Marzano), a handful of sliced basil, and a sliced heirloom tomato. Cut up tomato with kitchen shears. Simmer ten minutes, check salt level, and prepare to add eggs.
- Make a small depression for each egg with a large spoon and crack directly into the pan. Arrange roasted squash and cherry tomatoes, add salt and pepper to eggs, and bake at 350F until eggs are soft set. Don’t let them cook until done, they’ll continue to finish as you’re preparing to serve.
- Serve immediately along with toast or flatbread.