Portobello Shakshuka with Baked Eggs and Israeli Feta
Meaty portobello mushrooms star in this soulful, healthy and satisfying entree. Add flatbread and a greens salad for a full meal.
This recipe comes from chef Becky Selengut's book Shroom: Mind-Bendingly Good Recipes for Cultivated and Wild Mushrooms. Read more about Selengut's teaching at Bastyr and why she loves cooking with mushrooms.
Shakshuka, despite what it might sound like, is not some awesome new dance, though it might inspire you to create one. (Some say it is derived from the Hebrew word leshakshek, meaning “to shake.”) Shakshuka has its roots in North Africa and is very popular in many Middle Eastern countries. Tunisian Jews supposedly brought this dish to Israel, where it became popular. It’s the best kind of dish—simple, soulful, healthy, and satisfying. I added portobellos to make this dish “meatier” and mushroom stock to increase the savory quality (increasing the umami factor). Look for portobellos with deep cups to better hold the eggs. All you need is a big cast-iron skillet, some bread, maybe a side salad, and a glass (or bottle) of red wine, such as Italian Chianti Classico.
Feel free to improvise with this basic recipe. For instance, sometimes I like to add mint in addition to the parsley. Traditionally, you’d fry chiles along with the onions, and that is also wonderful. I’m sure I speak for Israel when I say: Thank you, Tunisian Jews. Thank you.
- To make the spice mix, in a small bowl, combine the cumin, cayenne, paprika, and salt. Set aside.
- In a heavy 12-inch skillet, preferably cast iron, set over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the portobellos, stem side down, and cook until they start to wilt and brown a bit, 4 to 5 minutes. Cook in batches if necessary.
- Turn the mushrooms over, sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes, until you get some browning on the cap side. Transfer from the skillet to a plate and set aside.
- Add the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil to the skillet. Warm the oil and then add the onion. Sauté for 5 minutes, until the onion begins to soften, and then add the mushroom stock. Bring the stock to a boil, lower the heat so the stock simmers, and continue to cook until all the liquid is absorbed, 5 to 7 minutes longer.
- Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, and spice mix and sauté until the garlic and spices smell fragrant and the tomato paste has darkened a bit in color, about 1 minute.
- Add the tomatoes and sugar, if using. Increase the heat and bring the sauce to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Tuck the mushrooms into the sauce, stem side up. Simmer for 5 minutes longer. Carefully crack an egg into each mushroom “saucer.” Season the eggs with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and a generous sprinkling of black pepper. Sprinkle the feta carefully around the eggs but not right on top of them. Cover the pan and cook until the eggs reach your desired degree of doneness. (I like this dish with runny yolks, but some folks will want to cook it longer to set the whole egg.)
- Garnish with the parsley and serve with warm pita.
MUSHROOM STOCK: You will not be sorry you took the time to make your own. As you cook and are busy prepping vegetables and such, e.g., carrots, celery, onions, mushrooms, parsley, and thyme, save the carrot tops and peels, celery ends and leaves, onion ends and cores, shiitake and button stems, thyme and parsley stems, and any other produce bits you collect. (Skip vegetables like kale, cabbage, broccoli, or anything with a dominating flavor or color that you wouldn’t want in a mushroom stock—no beets!)
To make the stock, add these vegetable scraps to a quart-size resealable plastic bag that lives in the freezer. When the bag is full, you are ready to make your stock. At the market, pick up a small onion, some dried porcini, and a handful of fresh shiitake mushrooms.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Drizzle a little high-heat oil on a rimmed baking pan. Throw the shiitakes, along with the chopped up onion, onto the pan, and toss with the oil. Roast until caramelized, about 20 minutes.
- Deglaze the pan with a little wine or water, scraping up any brown bits stuck to the pan. Dump the mushrooms and onions, along with the liquid, into a stockpot along with the contents of that freezer bag (no need to thaw) and a few rehydrated pieces of dried porcini (along with the strained soaking liquid). Cover with 3 quarts water, chuck in about 5 peppercorns, bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes.
- Pour the contents of the pot through a fine-mesh strainer set over a large bowl, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. You should end up with about 2 quarts mushroom stock.
Want to make vegetable stock? Do the same thing, but just use fewer mushrooms and more vegetables (and a big flavor bonus if you roast some of the vegetables as you would the shiitake and onion). If you want to make mushroom stock but don’t have a full bag of trimmings in the freezer, just use an assortment of vegetables and mushrooms (equaling roughly 1 quart) and follow the same general procedure.
See the video on making shroom stock at www.shroomthecookbook.com.
NOTE: If you end up purchasing mushroom stock for the recipes in the book that call for homemade, you’ll want to start with less salt in your recipe and adjust as you go so that you don’t oversalt the dish.