Just as the true beauty is the effortless sort, sometimes the most elegant meals are the simplest dishes offered from time-honored staples. This Middle Eastern recipe for shakshouka is just that. It’s inexpensive, full of nutritious ingredients, and uncomplicated. Yet paired with a hearty piece of naan or crusty bread, it’s as sophisticated and satisfying as can be.
If you’ve never heard of it, you’re not alone. Though there is some debate, the most familiar version is of North African descent and is most closely associated with the Middle East, particularly Israel. Though variations are plenty, the traditional dish is tomato sauce-based, with eggs cooked right in the pan with the simmering sauce.
This version, by CorePerform dietitian Norah Candito, features lentils to add substance. Lentils contain a form of fiber known as resistant starch, which is slow to digest offering a blood sugar lowering effect. They are also a source of prebiotics, which feed friendly gut bacteria lowering the incidence of digestive diseases.
Another notable mention is the turmeric in this recipe. Turmeric is often praised as an effective anti-inflammatory, and with so many chronic diseases being associated with inflammation, it has promising health potential. However, it is important to note that research is ongoing, and that the bioavailability of the active substance in turmeric may not be as high as necessary for its beneficial effects. Interestingly, its bioavailability has been shown to increase exponentially when paired with black pepper.
Though the traditional Middle Eastern recipe is simply aromatics, spices, tomatoes, and eggs; this one-pan meal is perfect for personal touches. Change up the spices a bit, substitute proteins, and top with herbs, shallots, or a lemon squeeze.
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp basil
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 2 small onions, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 24 oz. can diced tomatoes with basil
- ¾ C coconut milk
- 6 eggs
- 1 C uncooked lentils
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Heat 3 cups water in a saucepan and add lentils when water is hot (not boiling). Cook lentils for approximately 20 minutes.
- In a separate pan, heat olive oil and add onion, garlic, and spices and cook until onions are translucent.
- Add coconut milk, tomatoes and cooked lentils to the onion mixture.
- Crack eggs into the tomato mixture, allowing space in between the eggs.
- Place a lid on the pan an bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until eggs are set.
Serve with naan or thick pieces of whole grain crusty bread.