Mexican Inspired Shakshuka

The other weekend was my mom's birthday, which once every 10 or so years happens to fall on Easter. Instead of ham, scalloped potatoes (drool), green beans, and other typical Easter brunch items, my mom asked me to decide what to make and cook it all for her. To many that might sound like a nightmare, especially to those who deem cooking a chore. However, by allowing someone like me free reign over a holiday (and birthday) meal shows you just how supportive my wonderful mother (and everyone else in my family- thanks guys!) is of my love for the culinary arts.

Before I moved to NYC to attend NYU, I was bored off my ass. I had 3 or 4 community college classes, a job at a sauna studio, and most of my friends were off making cities across America their new homes. This was right around the time I fell in love with cooking. Most of my free time was spent browsing food blogs and recipe archives in order to come up with a meal that I could put in front of my family. My mom was always eager to give up the kitchen for a night (no surprise, after she spent years pleasing my picky sister) and let me do my thing. All I had to do was give her a grocery list and the kitchen was mine.

My mother shares my love of spicy food and Mexican flavors, so when I proposed a Mexican inspired Shakshuka dish, she was all for it. The first time I had Shakshuka I followed a very traditional recipe and knew immediately that I could give it a Dani-style twist with deep chipotle flavors and fresh add-ons like cilantro and avocado. It doesn't take much to transform the comforting nature of Shakshuka into a deeply satisfying and intensely spicy version of the classic.

Serving Size: 2

INGREDIENTS

1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes (I used tomato puree, but it isn't necessary)

2 chipotle peppers in adobo, finely chopped, in juices*

1 large garlic clove

1 orange bell pepper, thinly sliced

1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

paprika & cumin- optional but not necessary*

4 eggs

1/2 avocado, diced

cilantro & cottage cheese for garnish

*2 peppers made it pretty spicy. If you don't like spice, reduce to 1/2 or one pepper, and rinse to remove excess juice.

*Both paprika and cumin are found in numerous traditional Shakshuka recipes and I highly recommend if you are making the traditional style. I chose to omit for this version because I wanted the chipotle to shine!

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat oil in a deep pan or cast iron skillet. Add the onions, garlic, and pepper and sweat for 10-12 minutes on medium heat, stirring frequently. You want them to be reduced and caramelized.

2. Add the chipotle peppers and stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes.

3. Add about 1/3 of the can of tomatoes (I'd probably use the whole can if it was just crushed tomatoes), season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil.

4. Reduce heat and cook for about 3-4 minutes.

5. Make 4 small wells in the sauce and crack the eggs individually in each well. Cover and cook for 4-5 minutes for over easy, 6-7 for over medium/hard.

6. Spoon two eggs + sauce into bowls, garnish with cilantro, avocado, and cotija. Serve with warm tortillas, pita, or crusty bread.


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