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My first introduction to Shakshuka was several years ago when my local and new favorite caf√©, Sofra, a Turkish coffee shop started serving it. If you want to make or try their traditional version, you can find their recipe¬†here. This Shakshuka takes this popular mishmash of an Israeli breakfast¬†and throws in some flavors of the American South. ¬†If you have time, I recommend making it with collard greens. However, this version has spinach as the greens to save on time. The addition of yams to the tomato sauce gives it a slight Southern sweetness and richness that is perfect for the colder fall and winter mornings. The remoulade drizzle also adds a taste of the South and you can¬†make it as mild or as spicy as you like.
Shakshuka with a Southern Drawl
1. Bake your biscuits as directed on the package or make some quick and easy Southern biscuits from scratch.
2. The Southern drizzle is a remoulade sauce made with sour cream and mayonnaise. In a blender, add 1/4 of a small yellow onion roughly chopped, 1/8 of your green pepper, 1/2 Tbsp. of ketchup, 1/2 Tbsp. of yellow mustard, 1 clove of garlic, a few dashes of Tabasco sauce, 2 tsp. of pickle juice and a 1/2 cup each of mayonnaise and sour cream. Blend until smooth and put in the refrigerator to chill.
3.¬†Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Then, cut a yam in half and slice¬†four thin slices off the middle of the yam, about 1/8 inch thick, and pat them dry. Heat 3¬†Tbsp. of vegetable oil in a small saut√© or saucepan. Thinly slice and cube your four yam slices¬†to make mini croutons. Once the oil is hot enough that it starts to ripple, toss in the cubed yams and cook until golden over medium high heat. Remove the crispy yams and place on a paper towel to drain. Pour out half the oil from the pan. Dice and saut√© the rest of the onion and¬†green pepper over medium low heat just until the onion becomes slightly transparent. Remove the onions and green peppers with a slotted spoon and place into an oven safe pan or dish. You can use a small cast iron pan or a baking dish.
4. Without cleaning the pan, toss in your 8-12¬†cups of washed and trimmed spinach and cook until wilted. Remove and sprinkle with smoked salt. You can use regular salt here if you like, but the smokey flavor adds a little extra Southern flare. If you have time to prepare collard greens instead of spinach, just replace the sour cream above with all mayonnaise.
5.¬†Grate the rest of your yams¬†and add them¬†to the pan. Pour in the 4 cups of tomato pur√©e. Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Uncover and continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes until the sauce thickens a little. Once the grated yams are very soft, pour the mixture over your onions and peppers.
6. Crack all four¬†eggs into your dish, or spoon the tomato and vegetable mixture into individual dishes and crack one egg in each dish.¬†Bake for 10-15 minutes until the egg is just set. Ideally, you want the yolk runny.
7.¬†Remove the dish from the oven. Sprinkle each slice of fresh tomato lightly with salt and pepper. Split your biscuits and slide a slice of tomato in the middle of each one. Add the spinach to the dish next to your eggs and toss¬†the yam croutons over the dish. Drizzle the Southern sauce over the eggs and spinach, add a few extra dashes of Tabasco and serve.
Salad is an interesting dish, but we often think of it in its humblest form: the side salad with a few¬†leaves of lettuce and maybe a few add-ons¬†soaked in¬†dressing. In reality though, salad can be a hundred different dishes. There are salads with grains, salads with noodles, salads that are grilled, salads topped with steak or salmon. In North America, we typically think of salads with lettuce or greens, but Israeli salads are usually perfectly cubed vegetables like sweet, slightly acidic tomatoes (technically a fruit!), refreshing cucumbers, a little onion if you like and maybe some peppers.
This Orzo salad is a twist on a classic Israeli salad of chopped tomatoes and cucumbers. The Italian rice-like pasta orzo is added in with the vegetables, and a pesto of parsley, almonds and feta creates the sauce and seasoning for this tasty summer salad. Pesto¬†comes from the Italian word pestare,¬†which means to crush. A pesto is a delicious paste of crushed herbs and and spices. For this salad¬†you can add in any additional vegetables you like.
Israeli Orzo Salad
1. ¬†In a large pot, boil water and add a tablespoon of salt.
2. ¬†While the water is boiling, wash and dry your parsley. Add your parsley, blanched almonds, garlic and a 1/4 pound of the feta to a blender or food processor. Add in 1/4 cup of olive oil. Pur√©e together to make your pesto.
3. ¬†Once the water comes to a boil, cook the orzo as directed on the box (about 7-9 minutes usually).
5. ¬†While the pasta cools to room temperature, wash a cut your vegetables. You want the tomatoes, cucumber and optional green pepper to be about 1/- inch cubes.
6. ¬†Once the orzo has cooled, toss in all the vegetables. Toss in the zest of one lemon and the rest of the pesto. Crumble the rest of the feta cheese (or less to taste) over the top of the salad and sprinkle on the olives (optional).
This salad makes a perfect lunch alone, or serve with some grilled fish or meat for dinner.