Main Courses

Shakshuka 181, It’s Vegan

Skillet of Shakshuka 181
Vegan Reverse Shakshuka, 181

Shakshuka is a skillet dish where eggs are poached in a savory tomato sauce. It’s North African to Middle Eastern but generally considered Israeli. Cook and food writer Mark Bittman this week blogged on Epicurious editor David Tamarkin and his variation White Shakshuka.

Traditional shashuka, eggs poached in tomato sauce
Traditional shashuka, eggs poached in tomato sauce. Credit Wikimedia Commons

It looks wonderful, eggs poached in a stew of oniony-lemony white beans. It’s a reverse, though I’d call it 179 degrees not the full 180, as it’s still eggs.

Eggs and beans are redundant protein.

A true 180 would be egg-sized tomatoes floating in a whitish sauce. Call it 181, being a one-off from an impractical polar opposite. Mine is vegan with no added fat (but see notes).

The 181 is good looking and tasty. Grocery tomatoes are fine, so this is a year-round dish. Quick. It’s so quick that my pictures should be updated later on, as all I had were red onions and that darkened the stew to about a 182.

Serves two on a work night, up to four servings by adding to the table a generous salad and crusty hearty bread, toast or pita etc.

  • 3 cups water
  • 4 fresh medium-size tomatoes, 3-6 oz. each
  • 1 medium yellow OR white onion, diced to bean size or smaller, about 1 heaping cup
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (see spice note)
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika OR 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes OR chipotle powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, to start with
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, to start with
  • 1 (usually 15-oz.) can white beans, such as cannellini or chickpeas, drained, reserving liquid (don’t rinse beans)
  • 2 Tablepoons lemon juice, to start with
  • 2 Tablespoons dried cilantro OR parsley, divided use
  1. Heat water to boiling. Add tomatoes and cook 15-30 seconds, until peel of each starts to split. Remove promptly and let cool a moment or two. Reserve the cooking water. Core out the stem end and peel. (Discard the peels.) Yeah, this is a little messy. Cut each in half at the equator. Leave for the moment cut side up to prevent juice from escaping.
  2. Pour reserved bean liquid (aquafaba) in a large measuring cup. Add any juice from the tomato cutting board. Add enough of the tomato cooking liquid to equal 1 3/4 cups.
  3. Warm a medium (9-10 inch) nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add all at once the onions and 1/4 cup water to braise 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and spices, salt and peppers and braise only another 60 seconds, to bloom the flavors but not brown.
  4. To the skillet add beans, the bean-tomato liquid, 2 Tablespoons lemon juice and 1 Tablespoon dried cilantro or parsley. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer. Taste and adjust seasonings, including lemon juice.
  5. Add the 8 halves of tomatoes artfully to the skillet, cut side down. Sprinkle over top remaining Tablespoon cilantro or parsley. Heat through, about 4 minutes. There’s no need to cover the skillet.

Serve in shallow bowls. Diners may enjoy adding a little hot sauce like Sriracha at the table.


Vegan shushuka 181 plated, or should it be bowled?
Vegan Reverse Shushuka 181 plated, or should it be bowled?

Regular tomatoes are slightly preferred over Romas, as they’re juicier.

Bittman summarizes Tamarkin’s interesting cookbook in his newsletter.

I prefer whole spices when available. Here, I’d combine the cumin and peppercorns as well as the salt and paprika in a spice grinder, then add to the skillet. (My grinder is a blade coffee grinder used just for spices, once I got a newer machine for java.)

Instead of braising, heat 1 Tablespoon or less of olive or other vegetable oil in the skillet and saute the onions over medium heat for 5-8 minutes, till translucent. Add the garlic and spices and saute just 1 minute. Continue with the recipe otherwise.

If the white bean you choose is the black-eyed pea, call the dish Hoppin’ Shakshuka!

©2018 Ben S. Pollock Jr.

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