Shakshuka with Chard
Shakshuka with chard. Flickr CC
New Year’s Day is usually a smoked fish fest at my house. Our cousins Les and Neil stay over, we all sleep late and breakfast becomes brunch. Smoked salmon, pickled herring and whitefish is an easy meal to serve. Add a few fresh bagels, a tub of cream cheese, some hot coffee and everyone’s happy.
But sometimes I like to do something different, especially if the dates fall out in such a way that Les and Neil are at my house for more than an overnight – like this year, for example, when New Year’s Day falls on a Thursday. That means they’ll stay for the weekend.
I’ll need brunch food. Eggs and hash browns for sure. Maybe Challah French Toast or a quiche of some sort. Or something I served last time this happened: large, crispy potato latkes topped with slices of smoked salmon and a blob of sour cream.
But one thing is certain: shakshuka. This Middle Eastern specialty, a hot pepper and tomato stew topped with steamed eggs, is now so popular it’s already been transformed dozens of times into dozens of variations. In my newest cookbook, The Modern Kosher Kitchen, there’s a recipe for shakshuka with merguez sausage.
Of course, once a creative cook thinks up variations on a dish, there’s no telling where it will end. Cookbook author Janna Gur once said that shakshuka must include three ingredients: eggs, tomatoes and hot sauce, but has since changed her mind and reinvented shakshuka sans tomatoes or spice.
Her notion of a white shakshuka that swaps the hot stuff for cream and nutmeg was the inspiration for my own Swiss Chard Shakshuka, built upon sautéed vegetables and cheese. This dish is perfect for company or for family, for brunch or dinner. It’s hearty, filling and easy to make. You can prepare the base 2-3 days ahead and keep it, wrapped in plastic wrap, in the fridge. Then, just before serving, rewarm the casserole, add the eggs and finish the dish.
And yes, the eggs are mandatory. We must maintain some shakshuka standards.
Ronnie Fein is a cookbook author, food writer and cooking teacher in Stamford, CT. She is the author of Hip Kosher and The Modern Kosher Kitchen. Visit her food blog, Kitchen Vignettes, at www.ronniefein.com, friend on Facebook, Twitter at @RonnieVFein.