Meatless Monday turned into Meatless Tuesday this week, since we didn’t get home for dinner on Monday, but that’s ok. Like so many other people, I’ve been trying to go a little more vegetarian in the way I eat and the way I cook for myself and my husband. My goal is not to become a vegetarian, just to backpedal a bit on meat consumption by eating less red meat and eating more vegetarian meals, and more meals that use meat as a condiment or flavoring rather than giving it the starring role. I’m convinced this is a direction that’s good for our health and good for the planet’s health. Shouldn’t be too difficult, right?
But it’s not easy to change the way you cook at home. You have to get organized; you have to think ahead and shop ahead. You have to get out of the rut of cooking a piece of fish/ meat/ chicken that is served with a salad and a veg which is our typical weeknight meal. In my case, I have the extra challenge of a very carnivorous husband who is willing to go along with me, but I still want him to be happy and satisfied with dinner. (When I asked Frank what he would like as a vegetarian dinner, he suggested a shrimp salad. You see my challenge?)
Shakshuka is a North African/Arab/Tunisian dish (also popular in Israel where it was introduced by Tunisian Jews) of spiced tomato sauce with soft-cooked eggs on top. Eggs! That’s a recognizable protein to a carnivorous husband so I decided this was a good place to start.
Awhile ago, I had printed out a recipe for Shakshuka from David Lebovitz’s website, and this recipe was languishing in a wicker basket in the kitchen where I squirrel away such things. David had combined the elements from Shakshuka recipes in two different books: from Ottolenghi’s (fabulous) book, Jerusalem and another book I’m not familiar with called Secrets of the Best Chefs. I decided to go with David’s version instead of using the Jerusalem recipe because I liked the inclusion of braising greens and feta.
Here’s the recipe.
I’m not one to say I don’t follow recipes. Some recipes should be followed carefully (I’m talking about you, Dahlia Bakery Cookbook!), but Shakshuka is just tomato sauce with eggs cooked on top: clearly a recipe you can play with to suit your whims. I followed the recipe more or less, but didn’t really measure and didn’t worry about it too much. The shakshuka turned out to be delicious, and we didn’t miss the meat at all, not even Frank.
Next time I’ll probably tinker with the spices- maybe add some harissa and ditch the honey (since the tomato paste makes it sweet enough for me.) I was pleasantly surprised by the touch of ground caraway which contributed a warm flavor and aroma. Next time I’ll try to get the tomato sauce made on Sunday and store it in the refrigerator. That way, I will be able to come home, heat up the sauce, press in the cubes of feta, drop the eggs on top, whip up a salad and VOILA! Instant yummy dinner for Meatless Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or any day!