Happy summer! This time of year finds me with a spring in my step. Swimming with the kids, weeding, reading, sleeping in, adventuring and stuffing my face with fresh vegetables is what summer means to me. Finding new ways to cook up my favourite greens makes me pretty happy, too!
Real Shakshouka, a luscious Middle Eastern dish of eggs poached in a rich sauce, is thick with tomatoes and tender chili peppers, redolent of garlic and olive oil. My Green Shakshouka keeps the garlic and olive oil but uses the tender early summer greens, asparagus and early zucchini that are everywhere right now. It’s not authentic, but it’s very delicious, simple and satisfying. You can make this with any greens you like but a combination of baby kale, swiss chard and spinach is my favourite right now.
If you like, you could leave out the eggs and serve the vegetables as a side dish or as a component in a summer grain bowl, with grilled chicken or tofu and the herb oil drizzled over.
A deluxe breakfast dish, this also makes a beautiful summer meal for the #putaneggonit crowd. My neighbours Michael and Layla keep happy chickens that lay scrumptious eggs. I bet your neighbours do, too. If not, look for beautiful eggs from Emily of Hen of the Woods at the North Mountain Market. She also has sunflower sprouts, the perfect garnish for this dish.
2 or 3 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 large Onion, sliced thickly
8 oz (two big handfuls) tender greens, such as baby Kale, Swiss Chard and Spinach
2 cloves Garlic, 2 bulbs Green Garlic, or 2 Garlic Scapes, finely sliced
1 small Zucchini, sliced or 6 Asparagus Spears, chopped (or both)
1/2 teaspoon Salt
For the Herb Oil:
1 clove Garlic or 1 Garlic Scape, thinly sliced
A large handful mixed herbs like Arugula, Spearmint, Basil, Tarragon and Parsley
Pinch of Chili Flakes
In a heavy frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, stir to coat with the olive oil, then cover. Let cook a few minutes, stirring when you think of it, until the onion has browned a bit. Add a tablespoon of water and stir, then cover again. After a few more minutes the onions should be tender and lightly caramelized.
Meanwhile, wash the greens well, leaving the water clinging to the leaves. When the onions are ready, pile the greens, garlic, zucchini or asparagus and salt into the pan on top of the onions, add another tablespoon of water, and cover again. Let cook for 4 or 5 minutes, until the greens are tender.
Turn the heat to low, and with the back of a spoon, make four evenly spaced wells in the greens. Carefully break an egg into each well and cover the pan. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until the eggs are cooked to your liking.
Meanwhile, place the garlic, herbs and chilies in the blender or food processor and mince finely. While the machine is running, drizzle in enough olive oil to make a runny paste. Add a big pinch of salt. Alternatively, chop the garlic and herbs together until finely minced, then place in a small bowl and stir in the chili flakes, olive oil and salt.
Carefully serve up the shakshouka and drizzle with the herb oil.