I love cooking at the weekend. Weekend meals can be much more social than quick dinners so many of us need to cook during the week.
A chance to prepare a bit of a feast, to treat ourselves and catch up with friends and family, to share great food and take the time to savour it in the company of those we love.
Brunch is perhaps one of my favourite meals. For me, a lazy late breakfast is the best possible way to start any Saturday or Sunday. It has become the modern-day version of Sunday lunch in our house over the years, a meal where we sit down together and catch up on our week over really good food.
This week’s recipe is perfect for a brunch family feast. Shakshuka is a gorgeous one-pot dish to serve up in the middle of the table.
Despite its exotic-sounding name and origins, it is a simple dish to prepare with relatively few ingredients all of which are readily available in local shops.
The name comes from the Arabic for ‘a mixture’, which perfectly describes this lovely combination of eggs poached in a pan of spiced vegetables in tomato sauce.
A few tips which you might find handy here. To prepare the garlic, use the flat side of a large knife to very lightly crush the cloves and you can then peel the skin off quite easily. You can then chop or grate the garlic. I often use the ‘fine shred’ side of my box grater to prepare garlic which only takes a moment or two.
Lots of recipes that use aubergine suggest that you should salt and rinse or soak it before cooking. This is to draw out some of the bitterness that you often find with this vegetable.
To do this you would simply wash and cut the aubergine as required and then sprinkle it with lots of salt and leave it for thirty minutes before rinsing it thoroughly or alternatively, soak it in salted water for the same amount of time before rinsing it off.
This can be important for dishes where you plan to grill the aubergine, but it is not necessary for this dish. All the other flavours balance out any bitterness in the aubergine beautifully so you can just chop it and add it with the rest of the vegetables without any pre-soaking.
Start by prepping all the vegetables. It can be a nice way to get the kids involved, and if you have them all ready before you start cooking, you will find cooking the dish simpler and more streamlined.
Use a combination of bell peppers if you can. One each of red, yellow, and green will add some gorgeous colour to the final dish. If you want a little smokier spice to the dish, swap one teaspoon of sweet paprika for one of the smoked. I always do this, and I love the additional flavour it adds.
This is my favourite one-pot brunch recipe, perfect for lazy weekend breakfasts
Preparation Time5 mins
Cooking Time30 mins
Total Time35 mins
A good splash of olive oil
1 medium white onion,
2-3 bell peppers
6 garlic cloves
2 tsp sweet paprika
½ tsp cumin seeds
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
3 tsp sugar
Juice of half a lemon
A small bunch of coriander or parsley
Peel and thinly slice the onion, chop the peppers and the aubergine into about three centimetre chunks. Heat the oil in a large lidded heavy frying pan over a medium heat and add the onion. Cook until soft and a little golden, then add the peppers and the aubergine. Fry until the vegetables are soft, then add the chopped or grated garlic and the spices. Stir everything together and cook for about two to three minutes.
Now pour in the chopped tomatoes and bring the pan to a soft, bubbly boil. Add in the sugar, turn down the heat to low and simmer for about twenty-five to thirty minutes. Add the lemon juice and stir that in well. Now taste the dish, and season with some flaky sea salt, you can also add a little cayenne pepper if you want to spice it up a little more.
Use a serving spoon or a ladle to make eight hollows in the sauce. Crack an egg into each hollow. Cover the pan and turn the heat down as low as possible. Cook for another five to six minutes, until the eggs are perfectly poached, you want the eggs to be just set but the yolks should be nice and runny. Sprinkle over some roughly chopped coriander or parsley, and if you fancy it some crumbled feta cheese is a delicious topping for Shakshuka.
Serve this with some fresh baked crusty bread or flatbreads and lots of creamy Greek yoghurt, some hummus would also be lovely on the side. My parsley flatbreads are perfect for scooping up the sauce and dipping in runny egg yolks.