SHAKSHUKA FRIDAYS AKA B’FAST FOR DINNER

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Photo by Miana Jun

Growing up Catholic, my mother would often make frittatas for our mandatory meatless Friday night dinners. Friends of mine thought it was exotic and intriguing, but for us it was just a big, thick omelet filled with lots of vegetables. Potatoes and onions were the constants, but peppers, asparagus, broccoli rabe or zucchini were the variables. As a little kid, I hated those variables. I did a lot of picking out and sneaking to the dog or my napkin in those days. But as I grew, so did my appreciation for those “weird, icky” vegetables, especially peppers. The one thing however, that always bothered me, even after learning to love them, was that their skins were so tough and indigestible. I still picked out the peppers, but only to remove the skins. Tender and sweet, they melted in my mouth, leaving a sweet little pocket in the eggs as I picked them out.

Another Friday night egg dish that my mom made occasionally was Eggs in Purgatory—eggs simmered in savory tomato sauce. I remember complaining, as a kid, how gross it sounded and that the whole miserable affair was an unfortunate waste of perfectly good tomato sauce that should only be served with macaroni (back when pasta was called macaroni). The fact that my mother did not smack me or send me to my room at that very minute, (she may very well have and my rose-colored glasses are closer to crimson ) either showed enormous self-control or a smug understanding of just how delicious she knew it was—probably both. The runny yolks melting into the tangy, rich tomato sauce, the crusty bread that sopped it all up. She was right— It was delicious.

This recipe combines the best of both dishes and is a tribute to my mom who really mastered the art of meatless Fridays, good Catholic that she was…mostly.

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Sauté onions and scallions  Photo by Miana Jun

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Add roasted peppers Photo by Miana Jun

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Make wells Photo by Miana Jun

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Add the eggs Photo by Miana Jun

 

 

ROASTED PEPPER SHAKSHUKA

1 red pepper

1 yellow pepper

1 orange pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large Vidalia onion, sliced into slivers

2 scallions (or garlic scapes) , cut into 2-inch strips

6 eggs

Thyme leaves for garnish

  1. Roast the peppers over a gas flame or under a broiler until lightly charred all over, but not too soft. Transfer them to a bowl, cover with a plate and let cool. Peel the peppers, remove the core and seeds and cut them into ½-inch wide strips.
  2. In a large cast-iron skillet, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the pepper strips and scallions (or garlic scapes), season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are very soft, about 8 minutes longer. Using  a spoon, make 6 wells in the vegetables and place a teaspoon of butter into each. Crack the eggs into the wells, being careful not to break the yolks. Season lightly with salt and pepper, cover and cook over moderately low heat until just set, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the thyme on top and serve with crusty bread.
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Cover and simmer until the eggs are set Photo by Miana Jun

BRUSSELS SPROUTS–WHY WAIT FOR AUTUMN?

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Brussels sprouts in season August through December

Brussels sprouts in August? Huh? After nearly 2 decades in magazine publishing, I’m still bewildered by the fact that we always work at least one season ahead. Flat, tasteless hot-house tomatoes in March have to (using taste memories, a great sense of imagination and an even greater suspension of disbelief) approximate July’s luscious juicy heirlooms. Of course shipping from parts west (and warm) is always an option, but very costly. The irony of publishing “Locavore” stories in season while  working on them out of season is one that never escapes me, but probably never occurs to readers. And why would it?  Who could know? Working on wintery stories in the Spring and Summer is a bit less of a stretch  because many of those fruits and vegetables store fairly well. Taste is not always optimal but chances are, they’ll be roasted, braised, gratinéed, puréed or baked into a pie and that mitigates much of the un-seasonality . 

Brussels sprouts, the stinky cornerstone of Thanksgiving, are now just starting to pop up at the market, which is convenient for magazine work. But I’m always happy to see Brussels sprouts–any time of year and take full advantage of their presence whether I’m developing out-of-season recipes or just making dinner…or today’s brunch as luck would have it. 

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Brussels Sprout Shakshuka ready for the oven

One of my absolute favorite dishes is Shakshuka–a Middle Eastern version of my beloved Italian Eggs in Purgatory. Both dishes are nothing more than eggs baked in tomato sauce. Today I wanted something a little different and not so saucy. Back from a beautiful, drizzly trail run, and starving, I did a quick check of my pantry: eggs, sandwich bread, scallions, rosemary and yes, Brussels sprouts. (I was working on a Thanksgiving story and had half a basket in my fridge.)  My post-run go-to meal always combines protein, carbs and veggies and I had everything I needed.

I toasted some croutons in the skillet, then shredded and sautéed the Brussels sprouts in olive oil to softened them and bring out their sweetness. Rosemary and scallions were all the seasoning, besides salt and pepper, necessary, though I suppose some fresh chiles would’ve been delicious. (Enter hot sauce!) I then transferred the mixture to individual baking dishes, made a little well in the center of each, into which I cracked an egg. They popped into a very hot toaster oven (no need to turn on the big one) for about 4 minutes and emerged with runny yolks, crispy croutons and tender Brussels sprouts. A perfect all-in-one meal!

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The perfect all-in-one brunch: Brussels Sprout Shakshuka

BRUSSELS SPROUT SHAKSHUKA

total time: 20 min

2 servings

 

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 slice packaged white bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

6 large Brussels sprouts, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 scallion, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon chopped rosemary

salt and freshly ground pepper

2 large eggs

hot sauce!

 

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the bread and cook over moderately high heat, stirring until lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add the remaining oil to the pan along with the Brussels sprouts, scallion and rosemary and season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until bright green and crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Return the croutons to the skillet and toss to combine. Divide the mixture between 2 individual baking dishes or gratin dishes and make a small well in the center. Crack an egg into each dish and bake until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve with hot sauce. Yay!

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Perfection in every bite.