For British chef Yotam Ottolenghi, the egg is the perfect finishing touch—the key to completing a dish that is “almost there”. One of his favorite egg dishes is the Tunisian staple shakshuka, which, with its chopped garlic, peppers, fiery harissa, and baked egg, he describes as “drama in the mouth”.
Ottolenghi suggests this as an ideal brunch: “It’s a really informal dish—you can do all the work beforehand, then all you need is some crusty white bread to mop up the juices. It also has magical hangover-clearing properties.”
When baking an egg that’s cracked on top of a dish—as with shakshuka or pizza—the trick is not overcooking the egg or the dish. The key is to add the egg in the last 10 minutes (in a 350° oven), and to watch it closely.
Makes 4 servings
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp harissa (Tunisian chili paste)
- 2 tsp tomato paste
- 2 large red peppers, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 5 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
- 4 large free-range eggs, plus 4 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup labneh (Lebanese cream cheese) or thick yogurt
How to make it
Preheat oven to 350°. Heat olive oil in large pan over medium-heat burner; add the harissa, tomato paste, peppers, garlic, cumin, and 3/4 tsp salt. Stir, and cook for about 8 minutes to allow the peppers to soften.
Add tomatoes, bring to a gentle simmer, and cook for 10 more minutes until you have quite a thick sauce. Taste for seasoning.
Make 8 little dips in the sauce. Gently break the eggs, and carefully pour each into its own dip. Do the same with the yolks. Use a fork to swirl the egg whites a little bit with the sauce, taking care not to break the yolks.
Place dish into oven, bake for 8–10 minutes, until egg whites are set but the yolks are still runny. (You can cover the pan with a see-through lid if you wish to hasten the process.)
Remove from heat, leave for a couple of minutes to settle, then spoon into individual plates and serve with the labneh or yogurt.
For the baked egg: 10 minutes before dish is fully cooked, remove it from heat.
Crack eggs onto dish, return to heat.
Eggs will bake in 10 minutes or less, but watch the egg itself, not the clock—they’re done when whites are just “set,” opaque white, and yolk is still runny.