Tygh and I often have weird work schedules. From call hours to shift changes, our schedules are rarely 8-5pm. Which means the 2-kid dinner rush is sometimes endured as a single parent.
I can't complain too much because neither of us travels significantly for work or is gone more than a night or two per week, so we always more than manage. But still, after a long day, getting through the witching hour alone is enough to make me want to pour bowls of cereal for everyone and call it good (I've only done that a few times, I swear).
Which brings me to Shakshuka. There are many versions of eggs baked in tomato sauce, depending on which part of the world your eating, and I must admit, I love them all - spicy Italian with oregano and red pepper flakes, hearty Mexican with chorizo and sofrito or the Middle Eastern take, with cumin and paprika. Regardless of your inclination, they all go the same way: you cook up onions/chopped veggies, then add garlic and whatever spices you want. Add the tomatoes and let the sauce thicken a bit on the stove. Crack some eggs right on top and throw into a hot oven until whites set. Top with chopped fresh herb of choice and some kind of creamy, grated or crumbly cheese and mangez! The best part is that you can make a vat of the tomato "sauce" and portion out as needed over a few days, cooking the eggs to order.
Which is what both of us did, in alternating order, all week last week as one of us was gone 4 of the 5 nights. It's not glamorous, but its hearty enough for fall when a cold salad just won't cut it. And that 8 minutes in the oven is enough to heat pasta for kids (yes, that is pretty much all my kids eat during the week), set the table and pour yourself a Big Glass of Red. Be forewarned that you will need a big chunk of warm, buttered bread to scoop up all the tomatoey-eggy-cheesy bits. Luckily, shorts season is long gone.
The recipe below makes enough sauce for 6-8 large, tomatoey servings, so you'll have a little extra tomato sauce to get you through the night after, or to freeze for later down the road. If making single servings, use a small fry pan or single serving stove-safe gratin dish. I've included instructions for larger and smaller portions below.
1 medium onion, chopped
2 T olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced or put through garlic press
2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less, to taste)
1/4 cup dry white wine (optional)
1 x 30 oz can whole, peeled san marzano tomatoes
1 x 30 oz can diced san marzano tomatoes
2 Tblsp butter
salt and pepper to taste
chopped fresh parsley or mint, to taste
crumbled goat cheese or feta, to taste
Oven at 425.
In a large saute pan over medium heat, heat oil and add onions, sprinkling with a pinch of salt and cooking until translucent, 5-8 minutes. Add garlic and spices, cooking for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Deglaze the pan with wine, if using, cooking until evaporated. Add tomatoes, breaking the large whole tomatoes with a potato masher, knife or kitchen shears. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring now and again, until all bubbly and starting to thicken, about 20 minutes. Add butter, stirring until melted. Season with salt and pepper.
Can be used right away (see below), stored up to 5 days in fridge, or frozen at this point, for later use.
For 3-4 servings:
If using right away, remove about 1/4 of the hot tomato sauce and save for another meal (fridge or freezer).
Oven at 425.
Make little holes in the remaining, hot tomato sauce and crack an egg into each hole. Put into hot oven and cook about 8 minutes, or until whites are just set and yolks are beginning to become opaque on top, but are still nice and runny on the inside (unless you like them firm - to each his own). Top with chopped parlsley or mint and sprinkle with cheese. A little hot sauce is good, too. Serve right away with warm bread.
For single serving:
Place about 3/4 cup of the sauce (cold or hot) into a small fry pan or individual, stove-safe gratin dish. Let come to low simmer, then make one hole (if using one egg), or two holes (if using two). Cook, garnish and serve as described above.