Aunt Suzy says . . . 

This dish (also called Shakshuka) is served throughout the Middle East and North Africa. There are many theories of where it originated, but it is common in Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Israel, where it is thought to have been introduced by Tunisian Jews. Wikipedia notes that it rivals hummus and falafel for the “national dish” of Israel.  As you can imagine there are many variations on a theme with a dish like this.  The common ingredients are peppers, onions, garlic, tomatoes and spices plus the eggs.  Many recipes do not include the sausage and some, like this, emphasize tomato sauce over peppers.  I’ve made it with and without the sausage, depending on my mood and ingredients on hand.  I make Chakchouka mostly for dinner, but I know it is often served for breakfast and would make for a great brunch.

Margaux says…

We made this for the first time last night…or should I say, Jason made it (so he should probably be writing this!), and it was delicious!  We made it without sausage, and threw in a couple of zucchinis instead.  We both agreed that it would have been even better with sausage, but it was still good vegetarian.  We also both wanted more eggs with it, so I think next time we’ll do 6 eggs instead of just 4.  We love having eggs for dinner, and will definitely be making this again.  And the harissa really added great flavor!

Serves 4

The Pepper Stew

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

1 each, red and green bell pepper, sliced

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

Merguez sausages, sliced in about 3/4-inch pieces (optional)

1 tablespoon Harissa

6 tomatoes, peeled & quartered OR

1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained

2 tablespoons fresh mint or parsley

Crumbled feta cheese (optional)

Heat oil in large skillet.  Add onions and bell peppers and cook, uncovered, over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 5 minutes. Move the vegetable mixture to one side and add the sausages and cook for a few minutes. Add the Harissa and stir to blend. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Cook all gently for another 10 minutes or so until everything is soft.  Add the mint or parsley, or you can wait and sprinkle this on after placing on the plates.

Finishing with the Eggs

4 eggs

Make 4 indentations in the vegetable mixture and break an egg into each.  Cover the pan and cook gently for 5-7 minutes until eggs are set.  (I made an individual portion for myself since Randy was eating his stew without an egg – also delicious!)

Use a large spatula to scoop out a portion of the vegetables with an egg.  It should look like a nest on the plate. Sprinkle with the mint if you haven’t done this before and crumble the feta on top, if desired. Serve immediately with crusty french bread or toasted pita and a salad.

Cook’s Notes (Aunt Suzy): If you do not have Harissa, but would like a little heat, you could use hot sauce or add a minced jalapeno or serrano pepper with the garlic.  I would also add a little cumin if I did not use Harissa.  I am lucky to live near Clancy’s Meats which makes its own Merguez lamb sausage.  You can also order from Amazon by clicking on the link in the ingredient list. I think Andouille sausage or Spanish Chorizo might be tasty.  Or as I mentioned in the intro, this is very delicious without sausage at all.

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I love salads with oranges!  I’d never had one until I started exploring the food of North Africa.  Once my antenna were up, I saw that many cultures use oranges in salads.  This is the first salad with oranges that I made, and I go back to it over and over.  It is especially good with rich Moroccan stews and tagines.  This recipe makes enough for six people but is also flexible.  So vary the quantities according to number of people and your tastes.

The Dressing

2 tablespoons orange juice                             3 tablespoons fruity olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice                              Pinch of cayenne pepper

Splash of red wine vinegar                               1/8 teaspoon paprika

Juice of one garlic clove (use press)           Salt and pepper, to taste

Whisk all ingredients together and set aside.  Note:  Juice will be expelled when you prepare the oranges.  I always just use that juice, whether it adds up to 2 tablespoons or not.

The Salad

4 seedless oranges (Navel or Valencia)

½ small red onion

18 brined or cured black olives (such as Kalamata, Nicoise or oil-cured Moroccan)

¼ preserved lemon rind, diced (optional)

12 mint leaves or ¼ cup chopped cilantro

1 head romaine lettuce, torn (optional)

Prepare the oranges by cutting off the top and bottom.  Use a knife to cut off the rind (vs. peel with your hands), including the white pith.  This is key to making sure the oranges are not bitter.

Cut oranges in ¼ inch slices, then cut those in half.  Slice the red onion, then cut into half-moons.  Cut the olives in half.  Cut the mint leaves into thin ribbons.   Tear the lettuce into medium pieces; wash and dry.

Assembling the Salad

Toss the lettuce in some of the dressing, then place on a platter.  There are two options after this:

  1. Arrange the oranges in overlapping slices on top of the lettuce.  Place the onion, preserved lemon and olives on top of the oranges.  Drizzle all with the remainder of the dressing.  Sprinkle the mint or cilantro on top and serve.
  2. Alternatively, toss all the ingredients – oranges through mint or cilantro- together with the remaining dressing and place on top of the lettuce.

Note: the lettuce is my addition.  Authentic North African salads of this type do not include it, but I think it adds great texture and flavor.  If you do not use lettuce, increase all other ingredients except the dressing.