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We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other. - E.H.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Shakshuka - bigger and better

Late the other night, Agata had a stroke of pure genius. We had a table full of tomatoes threatening to go bad, and we were running out of ideas. We've made canned tomatoes, dried tomatoes, salsa, tomato paste... we were feeling pretty much set for tomatoes.

It had been a long night, and we were drinking wine and doing our best to ignore the tomatoes calling to us from across the room. Someone (probably me) got hungry and we decided to make a quick pot of shakshuka, a favorite for cold, rainy fall nights.

For those of you who haven't yet discovered the joys of shakshuka, it's time. Shakshuka is an Arabic dish made with eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce, flavored with lots of jalapenos, garlic, onions, paprika and cumin. The whole thing is served topped with feta cheese, cilantro, parsley and chives (or any of those things you happen to have in the fridge at the moment) and eaten with a big chunk of warmed pita bread. I was introduced to this recipe through Smitten Kitchen, and I will be forever in their debt.

So here comes the brilliance. As we were cutting up tomatoes for the sauce, Agata had a brainwave. Couldn't we just put ALL the tomatoes into the pot, (along with pretty much all the onions, hot peppers and cumin in the house), stew it up, and can it? The brilliance here is that, with the sauce pre-made and ready to go, our favorite comfort food just turned into the easiest meal ever.

The less brilliant part was the timing (notice the stovetop clock?).

We (or to be honest, Agata. I was more or less passed out on the table by this point) canned the shakshuka in quart jars for 45 minutes at a rolling boil, and added two tablespoons of lemon juice per quart to raise the acidity a bit. It worked a charm. Some cold winter day, we are going to love ourselves for this.

Next time, we'll just start the whole process about eight hours earlier.

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