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Spinach Shakshuka


Since I was little, I have thrilled at reading food-related passages in novels. In one passage I read, a dish was described so vividly, I felt compelled to re-create it in my own kitchen. It said: “Ruchama . . . fried onions and sprinkled garlic cloves . . . seasoned it with spicy green pepper and coriander seeds and squeezed a lemon and placed a pile of beet leaves . . . in the middle, and within seconds the green pile sunk into the pot and became an aromatic green sauce, into which Ruchama chopped cubes of sheep’s milk cheese and broke three eggs and dripped olive oil.” As I read and my mouth watered, I realized that Ruchama is essentially making a tomato-free version of the North African poached egg dish, shakshuka. Riffing off the “recipe,” I experimented with a spinach shakshuka and, like Ruchama, ended up mopping it up with pita “with great pleasure.”


Prepare the Shakshuka

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan set over medium heat. Add the onion and jalapeño and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, six to eight minutes. Add the garlic, coriander, cinnamon, and salt and cook, stirring, until fragrant, one to two minutes.
2. Add the spinach and lemon juice to the pan, turn the heat to low, cover, and cook, tossing occasionally with tongs, until the spinach is very soft, seven to 10 minutes. (If the spinach does not fit all at once in the pan, add a little at a time, adding more as the spinach in the pan wilts.) Uncover and evenly spread the mixture across the bottom of the pan. Use the back of the spoon to make four to six shallow indentations in the surface of the greens mixture to hold the eggs while they cook.
3. Break the eggs into small cups and gently slide them into the indentations. Raise the heat to medium, cover the pan, and cook until the whites are set but the yolks are still a bit runny, four to five minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Drizzle a little more olive oil on top and sprinkle with pepper, feta, and cilantro. Serve hot, directly from the pan.


Recipes by Leah Koenig from Modern Jewish Cooking
Photos by Sang An