When the farm gives you tomatoes, make Shakshuka!


I read the other day that consumption of fresh mozzarella vastly goes up when it’s tomato season. OK, guilty. Who can resist that all-time summer favorite combo, with fresh basil?

But our Jewish Film Festival caused me to think about a long forgotten dish that is especially good for tomato season. In a scene from the Israeli film, “Aviva, My Love,” that I just saw last weekend, the main character, Aviva, was at her professor’s house. He apologized he had nothing in the fridge. She looked inside, and found eggs and a handful of tomatoes (I guess no one told those Israelis that tomatoes aren’t supposed to be refrigerated.) In the next scene, the professor is chowing down on shakshuka.

Shakshuka’s origins are up for debate. I always thought it was Yemenite, but some argue that it’s Ashkenazi in origin. And how you make it is up for debate, too. All I know is that on my third trip to Israel, when I arrived tired and hungry from over 20 hours in transit, my Israeli aunt made me this dish. I had never had it before, but I never forgot it. It was some of the best eggs I had ever had. Call it Israeli comfort food.

I don’t remember the last time I had made it myself, but since seeing the movie, I’ve made it twice. With the abundance of eggs and tomatoes in our house from our CSA, it is a natural thing to make to use up all those tomatoes.

(I should have included a photo of my own shakshuka. I forgot to take one, so instead I attached one of my adorable husband, showing off the beautiful tomatoes we are getting as part of our CSA. That very tomato didn’t make it into the shakshuka pan, but it could have).

For the uninitiated, shakshuka means “all mixed up.” The only thing agreed upon is that it is made with tomatoes. Some blogger I found said that since it’s peasant food it should be made with canned tomatoes, but I disagree. Why use canned when it can be this delicious.

Basically, you take a lot of chopped tomatoes and cook them down for about 20 minutes in a frying pan. Some people include garlic, some onions, some red pepper. Some add paprika, or tomato paste. I have been doing onions, garlic and tomatoes, with a bit of serrano chile for some heat, but it’s really up to you. After the tomatoes have cooked into a nice sauce, crack two eggs over it in the frying pan, and cover until set. I like to serve it when the eggs are still runny, but again, it’s up to you.

Serve with some crusty bread to mop it up. Yum.

If anyone else likes other things in their shakshuka, please let me know. These tomatoes over here in California aren’t going to let up for awhile!

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2 Responses to “When the farm gives you tomatoes, make Shakshuka!”

  1. Naomi Berg Says:

    Few things in life offer more genuine pleasure than tomato season! And cheap too! My father, recently widowed, buys beautiful local tomatoes and fixes himself a tomato sandwich for lunch every day. One day it will be yellow tomatoes, one day dark red, the next day pale orange — it doesn’t matter as long as they are ripe. I don’t know if I could eat a tomato sandwich for lunch everyday, but I eat as many tomatoes in as many ways as possible while they are in season. A very simple dish involves tossing chopped tomatoes, juice and all, with steaming hot chunky pasta, black pepper, and freshly grated romano. A little fresh basil doesn’t hurt, and dinner’s ready in about 10 minutes.

  2. Phyllis Bieri Says:

    Our Israeli nanny has made shakshuka a staple in our household. We use fresh tomatoes when in season, and San Marzano whole canned when not. She starts off with a very generous amount of olive oil, sautees sliced garlic, reduces the tomatoes, then adds the number of eggs required after interrogating everyone how many eggs they want.

    We always eat it with pita, hummous, and labne. Plus a side of cucumber wedges, especially when our garden is producing Amira cukes like it is now.

    My kids tend to be tomato-phobic from about the age of 3 to 6, after which they decide red sauce is safe after all. Since presentation is all, they’re fine with cherry tomatoes they pick directly from our garden.

    How wonderful to be greeted by your Israeli aunt with shakshuka when first arriving. Some of my most powerful travel memories involve home-cooked meals. (e.g. Japan, Morocco, France, Italy).

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