Eggs poached in a spicy, savory tomato sauce: this dish serves itself. It’s my go-to when I show up at someone’s house and everyone is hungry. Chances are, there are eggs and a can of tomatoes on hand. Outside of that foundation, you can be as creative or as simple about adding anything else as you like.
Jerusalem artichokes, if you’ve never had them, taste and feel like a cross between potatoes and artichoke hearts; along with the fava beans, they make this dish special. They do need to be pre- pared separately, but you can do that in advance if it makes your life (and cooking timeline) easier. If you have trouble tracking either ingredient down, substitute any root vegetable—turnips, potatoes, even beets—for the Jerusalem artichokes, and a cup of shelled fresh or frozen beans, such as limas, for the fava beans.
Once you put pan to stove, the rest of the dish comes together quite quickly, so, for the sake of the vegetables’ flavor and texture, make sure everything is prepped and ready to go. Dress it up or down with your favorite vegetables or meats—whatever’s on hand—along with any herbs and spices you like. Tomatoes are the perfect backdrop. You’ll need one egg per person, as few as two in total or as many as six. Part of the fun is making this dish your own, but one word of advice: try it with the zhoug, a spicy Yemeni green chile sauce, like the Middle Eastern approach to pesto. Its fresh, herbal heat is the perfect finishing touch.
From Wendy Bazil: When Alon Shaya appeared recently at Politics and Prose in conversation with Joan Nathan, when asked about what makes a good shakshouka, he responded that you need a very hot pan and hot smoky oil, and then you throw in the vegetables and let them caramelize a little before adding the tomatoes or tomato sauce. This recipe also includes the unique additions of fava beans and Jerusalem artichoke. Without the addition of these two ingredients for those who don’t use them during Passover, this is a perfect Passover dish. Just serve with matzah instead of pita.
- Plenty of water, for the Jerusalem artichokes and fava beans, and an ice bath
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons Morton kosher salt, divided
- ½ pound Jerusalem artichokes
- 1 pound fava beans in their shells
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 small red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
- 1 small green bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
- 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 28-ounce can peeled whole tomatoes
- 1 egg per person
- ¼ cup zhoug
- Fill a large pot with the water and 1 tablespoon salt, and bring to a boil. Thoroughly scrub the Jerusalem artichokes; if they’re large or unevenly sized, cut them into even chunks. Boil for 30 to 35 minutes, until they’re about the consistency of a cooked potato, easily pierced with a knife but not falling apart. Drain, and when they’re cool enough to handle, slice into little coins.
- Fill another pot with water and bring it to a boil; meanwhile, prepare an ice bath. Cook the fava beans for 5 minutes, or until the outer shell puffs up and pulls away from the bean. The water in the pot will turn reddish, but don’t freak out—that’s normal. Shock the beans in the ice bath to stop the cooking, then shell them when they’ve cooled down. You should have about 1 cup beans.
- Add the olive oil to a large enameled or stainless-steel skillet that has a lid (but don’t use the lid just yet). Turn the heat to high, and when the oil is shimmering, pull the skillet off the heat and carefully add the cherry tomatoes; they’ll give off a lot of smoke and may splatter. Place the pan back on the heat, and don’t stir; you want the tomatoes to char lightly in a few places.
- After a couple of minutes, when the tomatoes are starting to blister, stir in the bell peppers, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, for 4 minutes or so, until all the vegetables are a little golden around the edges and the cherry tomatoes are melting into everything else.
- Decrease the heat to medium, and add the Jerusalem artichokes, favas and remaining 2 teaspoons salt. Roughly crush the canned tomatoes between your fingers, or chop them, and add them to the pan with their juice. Cook the sauce for a couple of minutes, until it thickens slightly.
- Decrease the heat to medium-low, and use your spoon to make little divots in the sauce, one per egg. Crack an egg into each, cover the pan, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the egg white is set but the center still jiggles. Dollop a spoonful of zhoug over each egg before serving.
- Excerpted from SHAYA by Alon Shaya. Copyright © 2018 by Alon Shaya. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.