Heirloom Shakshuka

Heirloom Shakshuka with Aubergine

New York City is as tall as its reputation. The streets are teeming by day and brightly lit all night. Things don’t stop; the 24/7 subway system is no exception. It’s grimy, but both the locals and the tap water are far sweeter than I imagined.

Although I can already picture the giddy smile spreading across my face as I look out from the airplane window at the winding Thames come January, I couldn’t imagine a better time or way to be living in this city—on exchange from London with four months to get a taste (quite literally) of the never-ending things on offer. You can follow the adventures via my Instagram. Between starting my new classes, I’ve discovered hidden bookstore gems, goggled at skylines from museum terraces, gotten lost in Central Park, begun a quest for best bagel, made fangirl appearances at my favourite design studios…

Heirloom Shakshuka with Aubergine

…and scoped out the nearest farmers market to maintain my foodie integrity, of course. Union Square Greenmarket is a bustling medley of happy plants, baked goods, and canned things, but all my attention was thoroughly distracted by the overflow of heirloom beauties, colourfully-named variations of which were rightfully present at almost every stall of local farm produce.

Heirloom Shakshuka with Aubergine

Heirloom tomatoes (also known as heritage tomatoes in the UK) are open-pollinated varieties that have been passed down and valued for certain characteristics. Open pollination means no frankenstein hybridising—they’ll grow true from seed, which makes them easy for farmers gardeners to share and pass down.

They’re a shout out to genetic diversity in an agricultural age of genetic erosion. They ‘lack’ a mutation that causes supermarket uniformity in colour; the absence of this same mutation causes a decrease in carotenoids and natural sweetness so, quite frankly, heirlooms just taste a whole lot better—and if that doesn’t get you, then the names will. As soon as I saw the “Cherokee Chocolates” and “Black Truffles”, I knew I had to make shakshuka.

Heirloom Shakshuka with Aubergine

Shakshuka (شكشوكة‎ / שקשוקה) has recently become a big deal in the West for a good reason, thanks to chefs like Yotam Ottolenghi and his bookshelf blockbuster Jerusalem. The name means ‘a mixture’ in Arabic slang, and indeed there are many regional variations that mix in things like salty cheese, Yemenian zhug, spicy sausage, and the artichoke hearts that Tunisian Jews introduced.

It’s a popular choice for breakfast and brunch because of the eggs and crusty bread, but it’s also famously warming and perfect for wintery meals. I’ve thrown in a prettily striped local aubergine/eggplant to mellow the acid. You obviously don’t have to use heirloom tomatoes with this recipe, but once you experience the zingy finish of a ‘Green Zebra’ or the complex smokiness of a ‘Paul Robeson’, it’ll be difficult to turn back.

Heirloom Shakshuka with Aubergine

Heirloom Shakshuka with Aubergine
(serves 2-3)

  • olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 hot chile peppers, deseeded and minced
  • 1 small aubergine/eggplant
  • 12oz (340g) heirloom tomatoes, chopped roughly
  • 1 t cumin powder
  • 1 t paprika
  • cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • dash of honey or muscovado
  • salt and pepper
  • 2-3 organic eggs
  • fresh parsley, chopped
  • crusty wholemeal bread or breadcrumbs, to serve

Heat up the oil in a large skillet and cook the onions, garlic, and chile peppers until softened. Add aubergines, tomatoes, and dry spices along with a splash of water to keep things from drying out.
Let this mixture simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes or until it begins to reach more of a thick, saucy consistency, adding more water if needed. During this time, add your sweetener (this will balance out the heat) and adjust the seasonings as needed.
Crack eggs into the mixture and drag your cooking utensil carefully through the whites so that they become more integrated with your sauce. Cover the skillet loosely and cook eggs gently for 5-10 minutes or until the yolks are set to your liking.
Top with fresh parsley, black pepper, and a pinch of cayenne before serving warm in the skillet alongside crusty dipping bread or sprinkled with breadcrumbs.

Heirloom Shakshuka with Aubergine

Heirloom Shakshuka with Aubergine

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This entry was posted in Algeria, Breakfast, Egypt, Israel, Jewish, Kitchen Science, Libya, Main, Market, Morocco, North Africa, Personal, Travel, Tunisia and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

83 Responses to Heirloom Shakshuka

  1. I love shakshuka, but I had never seen such a tasty version! I’m loving your heirloom tomato twist, and I can’t wait to try it :-)

  2. Monica says:

    I love NYC – the diversity being one thing! You definitely get both extremes but it is one truly amazing city! And this recipe looks amazing as well. : )

    • wandercrush says:

      Thanks Monica! Indeed, I’ve been spoiled with such diverse metropolitan cities lately that one day it’ll get too weird to return to Florida and all of its old white people ;)

  3. This is such a gorgeous breakfast! You’re making me hungry. Pinned! And, I love NYC too – just spent a month there.

  4. A beauty! I have made Shakshuka, however, not with gorgeous heirlooms as you have here. How beautiful. And isn’t it something how you can just change something so simple as using heirlooms rather than “plain” tomatoes and completely change the outcome. Love this post.

    • wandercrush says:

      Thank you! Yes, they’re so significantly more flavourful and complex that it changes the whole experience of the dish. I found it to be a lot sweeter too, so next time I’d omit the honey altogether.

  5. I wish I can find those beautiful colorful heirloom tomatoes here in Spain – I can’t find the yellow or orange ones. Breathtaking 2nd photo: these are very vibrant tomatoes! I guess it’s not common here in Valencia. I was planning to use them on my tarts and pizzas, but I only used the red ones that were available. :( :( :( Mail them to me? Haha!

    • wandercrush says:

      Thank you, Rika. Red ones are yummy too, and I’m sure the pizza was delicious anyway :) Heirlooms are getting more and more “mainstream” so hopefully Valencia will have easier access to them soon!

  6. The heritage tomatoes (that’s what they’re called here) are just so beautiful! All those colours are making me very happy. Got to keep a look out for some over here…

    • wandercrush says:

      Thanks Aimee! Thanks for the reminder—I’ve stuck that note in the post now. I get so culturally muddled jumping between the US and UK…hard to stay consistent with terminologies and spellings and whatnot :)

  7. liz says:

    First of all I love the look of those tomatoes, they are very beautiful. Secondly I don’t know what Shakshuka is but I’m familiar with all ingredients used, and judging by ingredients, shakshuka tastes very nice. I also know them as heritage tomatoes. Thanks and have a fantastic weekend!

  8. Shashi says:

    I have never had shakshuka before – i love the sound of your dish – all the veggies and eggs! yum! Thanks for sharing.
    Shashi @ http://runninsrilankan.com

  9. Oooh you’re here! In NYC! Where I live! Let me know if you have any questions or advice or anything, and enjoy and this wonderful, crazy city :D

  10. Enjoy NYC! Let me know as well if you have any questions! This dish looks amazing, I’m in love with all the fresh harvest, what beautiful colors!

  11. Have fun in NYC! My husband is from New York, but his family has pretty much all migrated south so it’s been a number of years since we’ve visited.
    Love the tomato dish!

  12. NYC is a wonderful place – I’m so glad to be here!!
    Your shakshuka looks awesome – the tomatoes and the addition of the eggplant. Huge fan of your pics too!!

  13. Caz says:

    Looks like a beautiful and vibrant dish. Sounds like you are having a fantastic time in New York. I hope you continue to enjoy your adventures!

  14. Looks like you’re having so much fun in new york! You made good use of those tomatoes and aubergine too! Lovely colours!

  15. Wow! What beautiful colours on these photos!

    I’m a huge fan of these heritage tomatoes. I like them thickly sliced and dressed with just good olive oil and some salt and pepper. But this shakshuka looks scrumptious! YUM! :)

  16. This recipe is gorgeous. Love all the tomatoes in here!

  17. Sissi says:

    I have heard (and seen) shakshuka so many times, but yours looks exceptionally beautiful with all the different tomato colours and shapes. I must prepare it one day because it sounds really delicious and easy.
    I’m always so surprised when people aren’t able to say which tomato varieties they like. For most people nowadays tomato is just a tomato (probably all they know is a tasteless one from a supermarket). It’s so sad… The same goes for apples.

    • wandercrush says:

      Thank you, Sissi. You’re right, and I never even realised the extent of apple variety until I moved to the UK—apple Mecca! Even there, people would rather buy imported Red Delicious…blows my mind. (But more orange pippins for me!)

  18. Joanne says:

    I’m so glad you discovered the greenmarket because it’s kind of my favorite place on earth. #foodieparadise

    This shakshouka needs to get made immediately, while heirlooms are still available!

    • wandercrush says:

      Thanks, Joanne! Yeah I was so pleased to stumble upon it while walking through Union Square. It’s hard to miss! I’ll be spoiled with a Greenmarket that’s open half the week…anyway, we should meet up soon! I’ll shoot you that email sometime next week.

  19. I need more of this in my life. The shots of your tomatoes are devastatingly gorgeous and I loved how you said “foodie integrity!” Made me smile =)

  20. Now that looks good! So colorful and flavorful!

  21. Hmmm … after this, heirloom tomatoes may become the mainstream in shakshuka : ).

  22. The awesomeness of heirloom tomatoes is basically unparalelled, and I didn’t even used to like tomatoes. Love recipes using heirlooms!

  23. This looks absolutely amazing…so many of my favorite flavors all together. What a perfect end of summer dish. YUM!

  24. Such beautiful tomatoes!

  25. Haha, definitely thinking alike here! My sauce at the time was missing the paprika, and had a few zucchini thrown in, but aside from that, identical meals. What a lovely summertime eat, right?

  26. NYC is a great place. I worked there for a decade, and thoroughly enjoyed every minute. And I love (and grow!) heirloom tomatoes, so I know I’d love this shakshuka. Really inspired recipe – thanks.

    • wandercrush says:

      I’m really enjoying the city, too. How much lovelier this recipe would be if I’d been able to use my own heirloom tomatoes! I’m counting on you to carry that unrealised dream out for me, John :)

  27. Norma Chang says:

    Glad you like NYC and are having a grand time. I try to hop on the train and get down there as frequently as I can.
    Wish I saw your recipe before I cooked my stripe eggplant. Unfortunately cooler weather is setting in so I doubt I will be harvesting more eggplants.

  28. This is sooo gorgeous! Love the colors and want this for my lunch!

  29. Wow this dish looks amazing. Also, welcome to nyc!! Perhaps I’ll bump into you at the farmer’s market one day ;)

  30. Such a beautiful dish, I am completely in love with all the colors from the tomatoes and eggplant. And I am especially happy you shared this because I have an abundance of eggpplants in my garden at the moment and have been hunting for a wide variety of recipes to use them in. This sounds absolutely perfect! I can only imagine how tasty it must be with the egg on top, too. So excited to try it!

  31. Monet says:

    NYC is one of the most vibrant places I’ve been. Reading your post makes me want to return even more. And this recipe? How vibrant and fresh! Thank you for sharing yet another delicious post!

  32. That looks so amazing Irina! Perfect brunch item. Delicious & pinning!

  33. What a vibrantly beautiful dish this is! Heirloom tomatoes are just so poetic, don’t you think? I love all of the interesting names of the varieties … Brandywine, Purple Russian, Green Zebra … they’re just so amusing. I’m definitely going to make this lovely dish for brunch very soon!

    • wandercrush says:

      Thanks! Poetic is exactly the right word, Trisha. I used to joke about wanting to be the person that named paint colours and nail polishes, but it turns out that heirloom tomatoes have the best names.

  34. Erika says:

    Wahh your instagram feed is AMAZING! Yay. I love finding good ones. And these photos of all the tomatoes…I’m so jeals. They’re gorgeous. I want!

    • wandercrush says:

      Hahah thanks so much, Erika! It was a pleasant surprise to look at my phone during class and see an endless scrolling list of notifications from you ;) I’ll let you know when I finally make it to Milk Bar!

  35. Enjoy NYC – great way of putting it – NY IS as tall as it’s reputation…loved that line. Looking forward to hearing about your time in Thames.

    Yet again another lovely recipe!


  36. Enjoy NYC! It’s one of our favorite cities ever :D

    This looks so comforting, Irina. Love heirloom tomatoes!

  37. This looks lovely, good thing heirlooms are still abundant at the farmer’s market near me!

  38. shuhan says:

    Gorgeous. Almost always go for the heritage varieties when I can at the market- love how different they all look and their taste also- so subtle and sublime, not at all like the commercial varieties. They are so beautiful just raw in salads too, but given the shit weather these days, I reckon shakshuka is the way to go. Perfect for brunch. Good one irina x

  39. julia says:

    Are you kidding me? This looks insane! what could be better than heirloom tomatoes and shakshuka all in one? Im Israeli so this make me feel very close to home. I can’t wait to try out your recipe, thanks!

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