RECIPE: Spinach makes for green shakshuka in a flash

Green Shakshuka. 
(CHRIS HUNT FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION)

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

Combined ShapeCaption
Green Shakshuka. (CHRIS HUNT FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION)

Credit: CHRIS HUNT

You may be most familiar with shakshuka as a dish of eggs gently poached in tomato sauce, but there’s no reason to limit yourself to that tangy nightshade.

This time of year, when tender leafy greens are in season, I like to make green shakshuka. It’s the same idea as the traditional preparation — a relatively thick sauce paired with eggs and served with flatbread for dipping — but with a colorful twist.

To quickly build flavor with limited ingredients, I start with harissa sauteed in olive oil. For a mildly spicy dish, stick with just a tablespoon of the spice paste. If you prefer more heat, you can double it. Once the aroma of the harissa fills the kitchen, all you need to do is wilt in a pound of tender greens (I like quick-cooking baby spinach), stir in a bit of broth, and blend it all together. An immersion blender is the most convenient method for blending, as you can do it straight in the pan, but you can also transfer the sauce to a standard countertop blender if you’re worried about splattering.

The final step — egg poaching — can seem challenging to get perfect results, but you only need to keep the mixture at a simmer and watch the tops of the eggs. Remove the skillet from the heat when the tops turn opaque, and finish cooking, covered, off the heat. Finishing the eggs with gentle, residual heat helps to keep the yolks runny and perfect for bread dipping.

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Green Shakshuka
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons harissa paste
  • 1 pound baby spinach
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • Salt
  • 4 large eggs, straight from the refrigerator
  • 4 pieces small pita bread or other flatbread rounds
  • Optional: Feta or Parmesan cheese, for serving
  • Heat the oil in a large, high-sided skillet with a lid over medium heat. (The lid will be used for cooking the eggs.) When the oil is shimmering, add the harissa and cook, stirring constantly, until aromatic, about 1 minute. Working in batches, fill the skillet with spinach and stir, letting it wilt. Continue to add spinach until all of it has wilted. (This entire process should take about 5 minutes.) Stir in the broth and remove from the heat.
  • While tilting the skillet to the side to make a deeper pool of sauce, use an immersion blender to carefully blend the spinach mixture until mostly smooth. (Alternatively, transfer to a countertop blender and pulse until mostly smooth.) Season to taste with salt.
  • Return the skillet to medium heat and let the spinach sauce come to a bare simmer. Make four divots in the sauce using a large spoon and crack an egg into each divot. Sprinkle each egg with a touch of salt. Place a clean kitchen towel under the skillet lid and cover the skillet, tucking the ends of the towel under the lid’s handle to keep them in place. Let the shakshuka simmer until the tops of the eggs begin to turn opaque, about 6 ½ minutes, then remove from the heat. Let sit off the heat, still covered, 1-2 minutes, until the egg whites have cooked. If desired, top with cheese, and serve with pita bread. Serves 4.

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 223 calories (percent of calories from fat, 49), 12 grams protein, 18 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 12 grams total fat (3 grams saturated), 186 milligrams cholesterol, 956 milligrams sodium.
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