The first time that I had visited Julia´s flat, I remembered it specially for a lot of things, like the thousand of times my forehead hit the lamp hanging in the living room. It had a metallic ring and on top thousand of coins of places Julia visited before. Coins running everywhere. But what specially caught my attention was the piles of books that were even stocked on the floor. Piles of books! I was surprised by this first fact, meanwhile we were wondering what we could have for dinner, Julia had suggested Orichiette, (had to say that I love any kind of pasta type where sauce or solid elements can get trapped in it) and we start cooking, hitting myself everywhere! Then at this second stage of surprise, when I realized the amount of different spices, from all around the world, tea varieties and a fridge full of different vegetables. I was so surprised by the fact I was in front of a person who loves reading and then share my biggest passion, which is the curiosity. Then she taught me how she likes the Orichiette done.
Later on, when I started asking her about the reason of my surprise, which I couldn’t hide my smiley face all the time, she explained to me that she also loves traveling. Jackpot!
I don’t remember when, maybe it was my second or third visit to her flat, coming after work really late at night, we were really hungry, seriously starving for something quick. After checking what she had at home I purpose her a simple dish we could craft in a blink on an eye. Actually I had no name for it, but I used to have it quite often at home, specially when I used to go every October to the South of the Basque Country with my cousins on hunting, gather mushrooms and spend some days in the mountain. We used to carry always a useful bag where to take wine and make kalimotxo for drinking there, but due the wind and how cold started to be we also liked to cook up there.
Shakshuka. We took with us a lot of chorizo, bacon and meat to cook on the fire, carrying some nice cheese and bread in a town around Pipaon, where the wild doves were coming from the French-Spanish Landas heading South of the Peninsula to escape from the cold season. I remember to craft this dish there making a fire to heat us up, but not that big since is not allowed during the hunting season, and being honest, can scare the bands of doves passing above us.
It is usually common in the Basque Country after the tomatoes season, when you have dozens of kilograms of them at home, to make the know “Tomate Frito” and stock it in glass containers for the rest of the winter season. Basically you make a nice sofrito with choricero peppers, onion, tomatoes, garlic and olive oil adding later the peeled tomatoes, blending it up until you have a homogenous consistency and use it for later. We took a couple of these to the mountain and actually my cousin has a really nice recipe which make this dish simple but deliciously like for taking bread and cleaning the pan with it. It was stunning. Perfect meal surrounded by nature. Hunting is not my passion, I got lost gathering mushrooms and taking plants, Julia loves this story, but we will tell you that on another occasion!
So for making this Shakshuka, for 4 hungry people, you will need:
- 2 big yellow onions (chopped in rings)
- 4 peppers (we took red and yellow) chopped in long stripes
- 4 garlic cloves chopped in small pieces
- 500gr of peeled tomatoes
- Red pepper powder
- 6 fresh eggs
- 4 dry tomatoes (Click on the link to see how to make them!)
- 1 Cayenne pepper
- Olive oil
- Salt and Pepper
And this is how you you make Shakshuka:
- Take a large stainless steel pan and place it on the stove on high temperature.
- When its already hot place 50-60ml of olive oil and stir in the onion together with the chopped garlic.
- Make it really golden brown and soft, we want to make a nice sofrito base, since is going to be the foundation of our dish!
- When its already done I like to add here some salt and fresh grounded pepper and then I stir in the chopped red and yellow peppers.
- You must cook them enough, meanwhile enjoy the music your ingredients are doing, are you able to hear those small explosions in your pan? That’s a good sign! Control your fire temperature though!
- Once they are enough golden brown and soft we add at this point the peeled tomatoes, the dry chopped tomatoes and the Cayenne pepper. We let it cook like for 15 minutes, being carefully to check the liquid, to not get completely dry and burn, and also to stir all the ingredients from time to time.
- After this period of time correct the salt and pepper of your preparation if needed. The mixture should not be dry but neither liquid, find a balance, and then make some holes where to place the eggs. Crack them and place them in the spots. Let them cook until ready, I also like to place some salt and pepper on top of the eggs.
- When they are ready, take the pan out of the fire and sprinkle on top some freshly chopped chives or parsley. Serve it IMMEDIATELY! And be sure to have enough bread and a good wine in company with.
We share this nice dish together with the family, and it was great! There was nothing left, and as promised before, everyone finished their meal cleaning the pan with bread. We ate them together with an amazing freshly chickpea salad that Katy made for us, we played some Monopoly after the meal and after some glasses of wine, some drinks Julia crafted and a nice company we finished this day. Amazing huh?
Shashuka! We highly recommend you to try this recipe, but even more to share it with friends and your beloved ones! There is no fail with this easy and nice recipe and you will surprise everyone!
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Julia and Iker.