Shakshuka is a breakfast with a bit of burn! “Eggs in Purgatory” are poached in a spicy, garlicky tomato sauce, served over crusty bread and with a side of cooling avocado slices.
Growing up Roman Catholic, I’m familiar with the idea of purgatory.
It’s been a while, and my interpretation may be a little rusty, but if I remember correctly, purgatory is a place or state in which the souls of the recently deceased are made pure through suffering before going to heaven. Not hell, but a much lesser, temporary version of it, where sinners in God’s grace must pass through before being allowed through the pearly gates.
It’s an apt description of this Shakshuka recipe (aka Eggs in Purgatory) if I’ve ever heard one.
If the spiciness of the garlic-packed tomato sauce is purgatory, then the resulting blend of flavors is surely heaven…in a skillet.
It’s time for some Shakshuka!
I have some friends who really like ketchup. It’s a habit they never outgrew from childhood, and they put it on everything from fries to bologna sandwiches. Whatever they’re eating, it’s got a smear of the red stuff on it.
Even their eggs. Which, pardon my wrinkled nose, I find atrocious. Why on earth would you muddle a perfectly good, flavorful egg with vinegary tomato paste?
Admittedly, I’ve never tried it myself, aside from the stray smudge that might work its way over from the hash browns on my breakfast plate.
To be fair, I never said I didn’t like ketchup.
I guess the idea isn’t lost on me, though, since I recently tried this recipe for the first time and was inspired to make a version at home…which, by looking at it, seems an awful lot like eggs with chunky ketchup on top, no? Except this ketchup is all kinds of garlicky, spicy goodness.
Having been to England, I’m fully aware of their typical breakfast fare: mainly toast, sausage, bacon, baked beans, fried eggs, and grilled tomatoes.
I’ve had it. I loved it. So much in fact, that I constantly have a can of those special beans in my pantry for those random mornings I feel like a fry-up.
Tomatoes and eggs just go together. Something about the mild egg paired with the acidic tomato makes my taste buds dance, and when you throw a bit of heat in there?
The convenience of canned tomatoes is what makes this Eggs In Purgatory recipe a go-to at the Crumby Casa now.
We always, always have an overabundance of Hunt’s and RO*TEL in the house (slow cooker chili happens a lot in the winter,) and we go through eggs like a fox in a hen-house, so there are usually at least a couple dozen in the fridge on any given day (thanks Walmart for the 5 dozen boxes!)
Aside from my canned tomatoes, I love to use fresh produce in this recipe. I even mince my own garlic, in spite of the fact that I own a fancy schmancy Pampered Chef garlic press, and we keep a big jar of pre-minced garlic in the fridge at all times.
Hey, you marry a Dominican and tell me you don’t put garlic in everything.
Now, can we talk about the necessary evil that is the onion?
Nothing will bring tears to your eyes faster, unless you’re watching a Nicholas Sparks movie.
I’ve tried everything in the book to keep the waterworks away – holding my breath, breathing through my mouth, chilling them in the freezer…there’s even some nasty rumor that wearing contacts creates a barrier between your eyes and the gas that’s released while cutting.
I call bullshit. I wear contacts every day, and I tear up either way.
The ONLY hack I’ve found that works 100% of the time?
Burning a candle right next to your cutting board. Preferably right under your nose. Some sorcery happens in the air between the flame and the onion gas, and it burns up before it can reach your eyes.
Once the drama of chopping the onions is over, you’re ready to proceed with this easy shakshuka recipe! Fry them up in your fave skillet with some green peppers and garlic, toss in a little (or a lot) red pepper flakes, then get those tomatoes in there and heat it all up.
In about 15 minutes, the chunky sauce should be hot enough to poach the stars of the show – your eggs.
Decision time: do you want runny yolks of not? If not, pop them before covering the skillet, otherwise sit back and watch the magic happen. When the whites are set, sprinkle on some cheese, let it get all melty, and serve everything up with some crusty, toasty bread.
The bread is not optional. For you gluten-intolerant folks, find an alternative. You’re gonna want something to soak up all that extra sauce and gooey yolk with.
This dish is total comfort food, guys. And if you like your meal a little on the kicked-up side of the heat meter, you’ve found it.
Make sure you serve it with lots of ripe avocado! It helps immensely with the lingering heat.
Shakshuka aka Eggs In Purgatory
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion chopped
- 1 green bell pepper chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
- 14 ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes undrained
- 10 ounce can diced tomatoes & chilies undrained
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 5 large eggs
- ⅓ cup Mozzarella cheese shredded
- 2 tablespoons parsley chopped
- 1 avocado sliced
- Crusty bread toasted, for dipping
- In a large skillet, heat oil on medium heat. Add onion and cook 6-7 minutes until they're translucent and beginning to brown.
- Add green pepper and cook an additional 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook 1 minute, until fragrant.
- Add both cans of tomatoes, cumin, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer about 15 minutes.
- Using a spoon, create 5 indentations in the tomatoes. Crack an egg in each indentation, cover, and cook another 5 minutes or so, or until egg white are set and the yolk is still runny.
- Sprinkle on cheese, cover skillet and cook 1 minute until melted. Remove from heat and garnish with chopped parsley.
- Toast slices of crusty bread and place them on plates or in small cast iron skillets. Spoon an egg and desired amount tomato sauce on top of the bread, and serve with sliced avocado. Enjoy!