“The idea of ‘poaching’ the eggs within the food itself is so interesting, I will definitely be trying this again and again.”
Day Two of our Plated Trial Journey had us trying out something I’ve never had before: Shakshuka. According to Wikipedia, Shakshuka [شكشوكة] “is a dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes and spice” of North African origin – like Libya, Morocco and Algeria.
I went out on a limb on this one. Foots thought it looked good when we were looking at the recipes and I said “okay.” I saw it had tomato (which I love) and spicy (which I love) and eggs (gotta love protein) and eggplant (wait what?). I don’t like eggplant. But I was willing to try it.
Now, a Gubs Moment of Truth. I did not like this recipe. I like the idea of it. I like the flavor profile. I like the cooking style. I love the idea of poaching eggs inside the sauce. But I don’t like the recipe… as is.
“Well, Gubs,” you ask, “why should I even read this then? If you didn’t like it?”
Well, because I like the idea of it enough to be dedicated to making it better. This recipe review below is a first draft – which I plan to improve upon later.
So without further ado – Recipe #2: Shakshuka with Roasted Eggplant, Bell Peppers and Feta
Recipe Review // Shakshuka with Roasted Eggplant from Plated
Warning: I found this recipe and tried it – and this is my experience. This recipe has been adapted, paraphrased, and annotated by me. All credit goes to the original owner.
Makes: 3 or 4 “portions” of Shakshuka, depending on how hungry you are
Time: about 25 minutes of prep time, 20 minutes cook time
Survives: 2-3 days in the fridge
Bang for your Buck: $24 for two servings from Plated.
1 // Prepare
– Preheat oven to 450° degrees.
– Cut 1 eggplant into quarters [or smaller, if you don’t like eggplant]. Toss the eggplants in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt [and 2 shakes of black pepper if you like black pepper] // As mentioned above. I don’t actually like eggplant. When I do this again, I would love to do chickpeas – or maybe black beans. I felt like the eggplant added very little to the texture and – since I don’t like eggplants – I wasn’t too crazy on the flavor.
– After tossing, add eggplant to an oiled baking sheet // The original recipe didn’t include to oil the baking sheet, but we had a very hard time getting the eggplant off – so I recommend doing an extra layer of oil.
– Dice 1 bell pepper into dime sized pieces
1 clove 2 cloves of garlic // You know how much I love garlic
– Mince 1 yellow onion
2 // Cook the Eggplant
– Take the oiled baking sheet with the eggplant on it and still it in the oven.
– Cook about 12 to 14 minutes, or until the eggplant looks a little shriveled and brown and is soft to the touch
3 // Start the base
– Your eggplant is cooking – and so are you! Heat a dollop of olive oil into an oven safe pan over medium-high heat.
– Once oil is shimmering, add in the onion, a pinch or two of salt and begin to stir. You’ll want to cook the onion until it is sweaty and a little golden – about 4 to 5 minutes.
– Add garlic to the pan. Cook until you can smell the garlic – about 1 minute.
4 // The Shak-showstopper
– Add 1 teaspoon cumin, 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon of harissa paste and the chopped bell pepper to the onions. // Here comes my major issue with this recipe. It is EXTREMELY under-seasoned – for me at least. I know they do this so that everyone can season their own amount, but this is just blasphemy. I still have a lot to do with the flavor profile here – so these are just low low estimates. More developments to come.
– Integrate well and cook together until the spice tickles your nose and the peppers are soft – about 4 minutes.
– Add in in 1 15-oz can of diced tomatoes (or crushed if you don’t like tomato chunks). Add in 1/2 cup tomato puree. Stir well to integrate and drop heat to medium. Simmer until the tomatoes come to temperature – about 4 minutes.
– Add the eggplant and stir to combine.
Gubs’ Note // If you have read any of my soup recipes, you know that I am a HUGE proponent of letting flavors develop – especially overnight. We were curious about this recipe as well, so we left a little of it overnight and – what do you know – about 4 times better after having that “super sexy overnight fridge quality time.” So I’m going to continue this recipe as if I didn’t do this but know that in the future, that is how I will be preparing this.
5 // Eggie in the… tomato basket?
– With the back of your spoon, make 2 or 3 evenly spaced pockets – depending on how big your pan is. A little deep, a little wide.
– Get a small, clean bowl. This is very important. Crack a single egg into the bowl – making sure not to break the egg. Do this to prevent eggshells from getting in your Shakshuka (it’s easier to get an eggshell out of a bowl than out of tomato). If you’ve no eggshells, slip the egg – gently now! – into the hole you created. Sprinkle egg with salt.
– Repeat for rest of eggs. DO NOT STIR.
– If you like feta, sprinkle crumbled feta over the top of shakshuka.
– Transfer your oven-safe pan to the oven (still at 450°) and cook until egg whites have set, but yolk is still runny – about 6 to 8 minutes. Wrap up some naan bread in some tin foil and throw it beside the shakshuka to warm.
– During the cooking time, you can jiggle the pan to check on the egg whites. Once they stop jiggling, they are cooked. If you don’t like runny yolks (apparently Foots doesn’t like runny yolks), continue cooking until yolks are cooked.
Eating Now // Serve immediately in a bowl beside naan.
Eating Later // Reserve the parts that DO NOT have egg in them. (The egg gets rubbery and gross in the fridge) and save that. Reheat on the stove on medium heat or for two minutes in the microwave.
Scorecard // Disappointed, but determined for more
EASE TO MAKE ★★★☆☆ – There’s not much technical skill involved here – but there is a lot that can go wrong. I especially found it hard to know when everything was cooked. Especially the eggs. Don’t overcook those eggs.
TIME TO MAKE ★★★☆☆ – If you don’t time this out correctly, doing everything at once can really mess you up. If you try to plan it out separately, it takes too long.
LEFTOVER-ABILITY ★★★★☆ – Not mad at all. We thought this actually tasted a LOT better as leftovers. The only tricky bit is making sure NOT to fridge the eggs.
TASTINESS ★★☆☆☆ – I’m not a huge fan – of this version. I feel like the overall idea of the recipe goes a far ways, but this version didn’t do a lot to develop the flavors enough. The whole thing kind just tastes like tomato mixed with eggplant. And that’s never too appetizing – especially if you’re expecting something ethnic and new. By developing a deeper, richer flavor profile and finding better veggies to go with this, I hope to improve this overall.
REDO-ABILITY ★★★☆☆ – Not in it’s current form, but definitely redo sometime in the future!
FINAL JUDGEMENT: ★★☆☆☆
I wanted to like this recipe so much. In fact, I was excited for it. And having it be so lackluster – and so flavorless – really took me for a loop. I feel like Plated meals often leave me yearning for more – not more of their food – but expecting more of the recipe. The idea of “poaching” the eggs within the food itself is so interesting, I will definitely be trying this again and again. I just hope I can get the flavors to stand up to the technique.