Sofra’s shakshuka breakfast is famous. Here’s how to make it at home.
Ana Sortun and Maura Kilpatrick reveal the secrets of their spicy-egg and pita breakfast.
Shakshuka means “all mixed up” in Hebrew, and the dish of baked eggs with spicy tomato sauce is one of the most popular breakfasts in Israel. Many countries in the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean claim a version of their own, like Tunisian chakchouka, made with peppers and harissa, and a Moroccan version made with lamb sausage and harissa. This version is from our Cambridge restaurant Sofra Bakery & Cafe. The eggs are poached directly in the spicy tomato sauce, so it’s important that the sauce is well seasoned and warmed before you add them. Try it with our homemade pita.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, including the liquid
1 teaspoon Maras pepper
1½ teaspoons hawayej (you can order it here) or 1 teaspoon curry powder
1½ teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 (6-inch) store-bought pita breads or Sofra Pita Breads (recipe follows), split in half widthwise
½ cup Zhoug (recipe follows)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
To make the spicy tomato sauce, in a large saucepan over low heat, combine the olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, Maras pepper, and hawayej. Simmer until the tomatoes are soft and melted, about 15 minutes. It is important to cook the sauce slowly so the tomatoes are soft enough to puree but don’t reduce too much. Set the sauce aside to cool slightly.
Using an immersion blender and starting at low speed, puree the sauce, gradually increasing the speed as the mixture becomes smoother and resembles a silky tomato soup. Stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate up for up to 1 week or use immediately.
When you are ready to make the shakshuka, gently reheat the sauce and pour it into a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. First crack each egg into a small bowl or ramekin to ensure that the yolks stay intact. Using the back of a spoon, make a divot in the sauce for each egg and slide it into the sauce, one at a time, so that it doesn’t float on top; leave a little space between each egg.
Lightly season the eggs with salt and transfer to the oven. Bake until the egg whites are just barely set and the yolks are very loose, about 20 minutes.
Remove the shakshuka from the oven. Scoop 1 egg on top of each pita bread and carefully spoon a generous amount of tomato sauce from the pan over the top of the egg. Place 1 teaspoon of zhoug on top of each serving and pass around additional zhoug at the table.
If presenting the servings on individual plates, top each shakshuka with 2 teaspoons of zhoug and serve them with a spoon and the bread on the side so that you can use them to scoop up the sauce. Serve immediately with additional zhoug.
Makes 1¼ cups
Zhoug is a spicy herb sauce of Yemenite origin that you find in Syria and Israel. It’s a must with shakshuka, and you’ll probably find yourself stirring it into scrambled eggs, spreading it on a sandwich, mixing it with Greek yogurt to make a dip, or just eating it by the spoonful. If you can’t find Hungarian wax peppers, use jalapenos instead.
2 Hungarian wax peppers, stemmed and coarsely chopped (seeds are good)
1½ cups fresh cilantro leaves (from 1 large bunch or 2 small ones)
1½ cups fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves (from 1 bunch)
2 cloves peeled garlic
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1½ teaspoons sherry vinegar
Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until very smooth. You should have a bright green emulsified sauce. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
SOFRA PITA BREAD
Makes 10 pitas
Our Sofra pita is shaped into balls and baked as puffy pillows, which is different from traditional pita. It is surprisingly easy to make. We’ve also provided instructions for rolling it out to make pita pockets.
1¼ cups warm water, plus more as needed
2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons honey
3 cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Combine the water, yeast, and honey in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk by hand to combine. Set aside until foamy, 5 minutes.
Add the flour, salt, and olive oil. Using the dough hook, knead on low speed until a smooth dough is formed, 5 minutes.
Remove the dough from the bowl and, using your hands, knead into a smooth ball. Place in a clean, lightly oiled bowl; cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Lightly flour a work surface. Put the dough on the work surface and form into a rectangle. Cut into 10 equal pieces. Form each into a ball and roll on a clean work surface by cupping your hand around the dough and rolling in a circular motion. Repeat with the remaining dough. Place the dough balls back on the prepared work surface. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the balls of dough on the prepared baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake until light golden brown, about 5 minutes.
Store pita in an airtight container or a zip-top bag. Pita is best served the same day but will keep 3 days.
To make pita pockets, use a rolling pin to roll each ball of dough into a 6-inch circle. Place on the prepared baking sheet; you can probably fit 3 or 4 at once. Bake at 400 degrees until they puff up and are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Let cool on the sheet.