I can’t understand why you’re still here but, since you are, I’m thinking I have a good chance of being forgiven, right? Neglect doesn’t even begin to describe the state of affairs here at The Shortlists. I know…it’s all my fault. Well, maybe I share a bit of the fault with statutory interpretation and the Acts Interpretation Act of 1901. Law School has begun, my friends, and it’s kicking my ass.
Truth be told – don’t judge me! – I actually really like the material, the people, the lecturer and the structure. But after nearly two years of waking up naturally (ie. having my feet licked by the dog) around 9 or 10, I’m finding the early mornings and reading late into the night pretty hard. I’m just so tiiiiired. This may be due to the fact that we moved back into our house last Sunday, the day before school started, and – please don’t judge me – I’m still living out of a suitcase. Yup, I haven’t even found the time to unpack my clothes. Which brings me to my point. I’m sorry for my conspicuous and inexcusable absence. I realize now, upon entering the Real World, that, though my previous life of leisure allowed me to cook and photograph with abandon, from now on I’ll have to actually plan our meals and budget my time, two things that make me lose my appetite.
But as things settle down and I get used to having breakfast at the ungodly hour of 7 am, when even the dog has stayed up in bed, I will undoubtedly work out how to keep shortlisting. (I’ve never gone this long before without having a dinner party and I’m starting to get itchy.) One way to do this will be to focus on simple, fast meals that satisfy my ravished self. And to that, I bring you….shakshuka.
There are lots of ways to make shakshuka, a traditional North African dish of mostly eggs and tomatoes. It’s a wildly popular café staple in Israel, where it comes in the pan and consists of two or three eggs broken over a cooked mixture of tomato, onion and salty cheese then baked until the egg whites are firm. You pop the egg yolks, which run into the tomato mixture, then sop up all the deliciousness with warm, thick pita. Sounds pretty good, right?
The way I make it is even easier than the café version and requires no oven or eating out of a dangerously hot pan. It’s the way my uncle, Zion, makes it whenever we’ve had a big lunch and want something relatively light, simple and tasty. Think of it as fancy shmancy scrambled eggs. Needless to say, I think it’s pretty awesome. It’s just the sort of dish to warm you up in the winter or chill you out in the summer, and it’s perfect when you have no energy, no time, no groceries, and a massive hole in your stomach.
Hopefully a little shakshuka will re-endear me to you…but if not, I promise I’ll have some more tricks up my sleeve soon. Just as soon as I find my sleeve, that is.
I throw in some spinach if I’ve got it on hand, but it’s not traditional. You can also use basil, which is a really great addition. If you can’t find shrug, sprinkle some Tabasco or hot sauce on top if you like it spicy. These quantities serve about 2, but feel free to double or triple or halve accordingly.
1 large onion, chopped
4 – 6 tomatoes, chopped
1 large handful baby spinach or a small bunch of basil leaves
4 – 5 eggs
a big chunk of good-quality feta (about half the size of your fist), roughly crumbled
shrug or your favorite spicy condiment
Heat some olive oil in a large pan, and fry the onions over medium heat until translucent, about 10 minutes. Do this while you chop the tomatoes and cheese. When the onions are translucent, throw in the tomatoes and turn up the heat slightly. Cook, stirring occasionally, for another 5 – 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes are soft and losing their liquids like crazy.
Throw in the spinach and/or basil if using, and stir for a few minutes until wilted. Then quickly break all the eggs into the pan and use your cooking utensil to break the yolks and stir the eggs around with everything. Immediately add the crumbled feta and stir to combine. Let the whole mixture cook over medium heat for a few minutes until the eggs are no longer super soft and and cheese has started to melt. You can let it cook for longer if you want it less runny, or, if you’re impatient like me, just take it off as soon as the egg is cooked and go to town. Add salt and pepper to taste, and, if desired, serve with shrug or another spicy condiment. Have some bread or pita on hand to sop it up!