Shakshuka with Eggplant and Cauliflower

single skillet shakshuka

My go-to on a busy weeknight is always breakfast for dinner. There’s not much else that’s as simple and satisfying than fried eggs, hashbrowns, and bacon. But that’s not necessarily the healthiest meal to end the day with. I’ve been completely obsessed with middle eastern food lately so I decided to put a spicy spin on our usual Monday night meal.  Shakshuka is typically served for breakfast in Israel and is a great way to start the day with a kick. Eggs are baked in a spicy tomato sauce flavored with cumin and turmeric and then scooped up with warm pitas. My version is a little more on the hearty side and includes sauteed cauliflower, egg plant, and serrano peppers simmered in a rich sauce of San Marzano tomatoes with a touch of feta. What Max and I enjoyed most about this meal was how fun it was to eat. We simply plopped the skillet onto our coffee table and dug in while watching the new X-Men. Monday nights don’t get much better than that!

shakshuka with eggplant and cauliflowerShakshuka with Eggplant and Cauliflower

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup of diced cauliflower florets
  • 1 small eggplant, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 serrano peppers, diced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 1 28 oz can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 4 oz feta
  • 4-6 free range organic eggs
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • parsley
  • warm pitas for serving

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat a large, cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add eggplant, cauliflower, and onion. Saute for about 10 minutes, or until veggies are softened and the onion is transluscent. Add the diced pepper, cumin, and turmeric. Saute for 5 more minutes. Add garlic and stir.

2. Add the tomatoes to the veggie mixture and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in half of the feta. Taste the sauce and season accordingly. Crack each egg into individual bowls. Use the back of a wooden spoon to make a slight indentation in the sauce for each of the eggs. Carefully slide each egg into place. Once all of the eggs are added, carefully place the skillet onto the middle rack of the oven. Bake the eggs for 8-12 minutes, or until the whites are set and the yolks are firm.

3. Remove the skillet from the oven and sprinkle the remaining feta on top. Garnish with parsley. Serve with warm pitas.

shakshuka with eggplant and cauliflower

The sauteed eggplant and cauliflower spiced with cumin and turmeric provide the foundation for the spicy tomato sauce.

shakshuka sauceThe hearty tomato sauce is ready for eggs.

shakshuka with eggplant and caulifower

Breakfast for dinner will never be the same!

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Pretty Pepper Pasta

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I had the single-greatest food experience of our lives at Eataly in Chicago. If you’ve never been, you need to drop everything you’re doing right now and go. And yes, I’m being completely serious. It’s essentially the Disney World of Italian food. The Chicago Eataly is in an old ESPN zone and is larger than the one in New York City. Which is great for Midwesterners because our appetites demand 63,000 square feet of wall to wall food. The Chicago branch is also co-owned by two of my culinary heroes, Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich. If you’re expecting it to look like an oversized Olive Garden, then you will be pleasantly surprised. I couldn’t believe how modern everything looked. I didn’t feel embarrassed of my Italian heritage like I do when I go to Buca Di Beppo.

eataly chicago.jpg

But enough about the looks! Let’s get to the good stuff. Eataly is an entirely immersive food experience. You can enjoy an exquisite charcuterie and cheese platter and then buy the exact same meats and cheeses from the deli. This is ideal for me because I’m the kind of person who loves recreating restaurant dishes at home. With that being said, there’s no way anyone could do their regular grocery shopping there. But if you’re looking for a unique treat, there’s no better place. I was amazed by the impeccable quality of all of the meat and produce. It was difficult for Max and I to leave without buying up the entire place!

food eataly.jpg

I did manage to pick up this beautiful pasta made by Afeltra, a brand that I’ve never heard of before. There were so many unique pasta shapes, I wanted to buy them all! I knew that this particular shape would be the perfect vessel for my roasted red pepper pasta sauce. This is the perfect dish to enjoy on Good Friday, the final day of Lent. It’s a fun twist on traditional pasta sauce that doesn’t use a single tomato. I also added mozzarella pearls to give the pasta a creamy and meaty texture. A tangy goat cheese would also be delicious.

ingredients 2

 

Pretty Pepper Pasta

Serves 4

  • 4 Red Bell Peppers
  • 2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
  • 1/4 c Heavy Cream
  • 1 lb of your Favorite Pasta
  • 1/4 t sugar
  • Salt and Pepper, to Taste
  • 1/2 c Basil
  • Mozzarella Pearls Sprinkled with Salt

1. Preheat broiler on high. Place red peppers on a foil lined cookie sheet. Rub liberally with olive oil. Place peppers under broiler, and cook until charred on all sides. This took me about 20 minutes. While the peppers are roasting, sauté the garlic over low heat in a pan big enough for the sauce. You’ll also want to start boiling your water.

2. Once the peppers are sufficiently charred, place in a sealed zip-lock bag. After they cool, remove the peppers from the bag. Place on a cutting board and remove the blackened skins. They should slip off very easily. Then scrape out all of the seeds from the inside. I like to rinse the peppers under water to make sure there are absolutely no seeds. After the peppers are cleaned, puree them in a blender or food processor until smooth.

3. If you haven’t already done so, drop your pasta in boiling water. Pour the pureed peppers in the pan with garlic. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Stir in heavy cream and the remaining olive oil. Add sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. Slice half of the fresh basil into ribbons and add to sauce.

4. Add the cooked pasta to the pan and stir until it’s coated evenly. Divide the pasta into bowls. Stud the pasta with the mozzarella pearls. Garnish with the remaining basil. Serve immediately and enjoy!

charred peppers

This is what your peppers should like after they’re roasted.

steamy pasta

finished

Asparagus and Gorgonzola Salad

The first time I ever had this salad was last summer at my favorite Italian restaurant. I haven’t stopped dreaming about it ever since. Am I the only person who eats something once and then obsesses over it until they can have it again? Probably, but that’s just who I am. No apologies here!

There’s something about seeing asparagus in grocery stores that gets me so excited about spring. That’s how I always know that warm weather is on it’s way. Even if it’s still chilly in your neck of the woods, you’ll still enjoy this zesty salad. The asparagus,gorgonzola, and tomatoes combined with a drizzle of lemony olive oil compliment each other so well, you’ll wonder why this is your first time enjoying this flavor combination. This recipe is so simple that I almost feel silly for writing it down.

ingredients 1

Asparagus and Gorgonzola Salad

Serves 4 appetizer portions.

Ingredients

1 bunch of asparagus, woody stems removed

2 tomatoes, diced

1/4 c of gorgonzola cheese, or to taste

1 lemon

1/4 c of extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

 

1. Fill a large bowl with ice. Bring 3 inches of salted water to a boil, then boil asparagus for 5 minutes, or until tender. You want the asparagus to be tender but not limp. Once the asparagus is cooked, drain in and place in the bowl of ice to cool.

2. Combine the olive oil and juice of one lemon in a sealed container and shake until combined. Line the cooled asparagus on a plate and sprinkle diced tomatoes and crumbled gorgonzola on top. Drizzle the olive oil all over and garnish with parsley.

 

finished 5