Back in Uni, eggs for dinner was a standard end-of-the-month staple (as was cereal, but let’s not go there.) Hard-boiled and tossed with dried oregano, salt, and pepper, and piled high on what Nigella calls ‘plastic’ bread – the cheapest kind you can find. Needless to say, I can never eat eggs the same way again. Every time I cook dishes like this now, I realize that with minimal effort and a little creativity and imagination it’s so easy to eat healthy, delicious food without breaking the bank.

I follow Yotam Ottolenghi’s basic shakshuka recipe (as one should) and tweak the spices every now and again. He has a harissa version in his book ‘Jerusalem’ that I’ve tried and love for its simplicity, but sometimes, just sometimes, I go all out with additional toppings – capers, olives, feta. I’ve never used banana peppers in a shakshuka before and the idea was a bit of a revelation to me. It just made sense.

   When I was travelling in Turkey a couple of years ago, menemen or Turkish style scrambled eggsbarely set eggs tossed in a subtly spiced tomato sauce with Turkish peppersbecame an instant favourite. Since Turkish peppers are not available where I live, the closest alternative I could find was the banana pepper. You could add them as is, but roasting them beforehand intensifies the flavour and creates a slight smokiness that makes all the difference here. Served with a side of crusty bread, this is the kind of meal that effortlessly straddles the line between indulgent and virtuous (it is, after all, just eggs and a sauce) in the best possible way.

  
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SHAKSHUKA WITH ROASTED BANANA PEPPERS
Servings
2
Ingredients
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 5 large tomatoes
  • 5 banana peppers
  • 1 red or yellow pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika (or 1/4 tsp chilli powder)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • A handful of chopped coriander
  • Salt, to taste
Servings
2
Ingredients
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 5 large tomatoes
  • 5 banana peppers
  • 1 red or yellow pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika (or 1/4 tsp chilli powder)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • A handful of chopped coriander
  • Salt, to taste
Instructions
  1. Lay the banana peppers on a baking tray and roast them in a preheated 160 C (320 F) oven for 30 minutes until their skins are blistered. Peel away the skins and discard. Lay each pepper on a chopping board and gently score them lengthwise and remove the inner membrane and seeds. Chop the peppers finely and set aside.
  2. Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water until the skins start to peel away. Drain, peel away skins completely and blend to a purée.
  3. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed skillet and sauté onions, red/yellow pepper and garlic until soft and lightly browned. Add the chopped banana peppers, cumin powder, coriander powder, paprika and salt and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Tip in the puréed tomatoes and cover and cook for 7-10 minutes until the sauce thickens.
  4. Using a large spoon or spatula, make a small well in the tomato sauce and gently crack an egg into it. Repeat with the remaining eggs. Season the eggs with a little salt and cover the pan and cook on a low flame until the eggs are just set, about 8-12 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped coriander and serve immediately with crusty bread to mop it all up!
Recipe Notes

*Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi

 

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