In my second year of college, I briefly interned with an Israeli Commercial and Fine Art photographer named Kfir Ziv . I am a huge fan of his work, especially his fine art photographs, in which he tends to use a lot of food and liquids-fruit, eggs, water, food coloring, etc. The combination of his intense detail and perfectionist lighting, and kinetic photography style make his photographs some of the most beautiful (in the commercial world) that I have ever seen.
Anyways, at the time, he was working out of a studio in Midtown West, which also served as his living space (separately). His fiancé/studio manager, also Israeli, was a great cook. It was a perfect situation for me, as a poor college sophomore, because every time I went into work I would get a ‘free’ (unless you count the unpaid internship) meal, and a home-cooked one at that! Her signature dish was Shakshuka, or eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce. She would serve it with warm pitas and dish of pickles and olives.
It’s the perfect dish to make on a budget or with limited food in the fridge.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Serves 4 to 6
1/4 cup olive oil
5 Anaheim chiles or 3 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped (I was nervous and only used 2 Anaheims; I would go for 3 or 4 next time for a more moderate but still gentle kick)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed then sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
Kosher salt, to taste
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Warm pitas, for serving
Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add chiles and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and paprika, and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.
Put tomatoes and their liquid into a medium bowl and crush with your hands. Add crushed tomatoes and their liquid to skillet along with 1/2 cup water, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Season sauce with salt.
Crack eggs over sauce so that eggs are evenly distributed across sauce’s surface. Cover skillet and cook until yolks are just set, about 5 minutes. Using a spoon, baste the whites of the eggs with tomato mixture, being careful not to disturb the yolk. Sprinkle shakshuka with feta and parsley and serve with pitas, for dipping.