Shakshouka is a beloved Middle Eastern tomato and egg dish that is often eaten for breakfast or supper. There are a million variations. Here’s how we make ours – it’s an easy fireside meal that will serve two to three people, depending on how hungry they are!
1 onion, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
Large pinch of cumin seeds
1 litre (4 cups) tomato passata or
1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) tomatoes, chopped
1 red capsicum (pepper), sliced
1 heaped teaspoon paprika
2 handfuls of herbs, chopped (basil, oregano or whatever you have)
2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 fresh eggs
1. Take a cast iron frying pan or other heavy frying pan and fry the onion in a slosh of olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the crushed garlic and cumin seeds and fry for a few more minutes. Stir in the passata or chopped tomatoes, capsicum and paprika. Simmer until the tomatoes and capsicum are tender and the mixture has thickened a bit.
2. Sprinkle the chopped herbs and crumbled feta over the tomato mixture and season, to taste. Make four small holes in the surface – this will help the eggs stay put. Carefully crack an egg into each hole. Cover the pan and simmer over low heat for 5–10 minutes or until the eggs are cooked to your liking.
3. Spoon the shakshouka onto serving plates and eat with some crusty bread spread with lashings of butter, and a green salad.
For us, this is winter food, when all the garden is sleeping and the wild greens make up a larger part of our diet. But it can also be a summer food, and it’s perfect for picnics. Use whatever wild greens you have growing around you. Assuming you’re using whole-grain flour, you can rest easy with this pie crust. Unlike crusts made with white flour and butter, which go wrong if overworked, this crust is pretty stable – bombproof, even!
SOURDOUGH PIE CRUST
300 g (2 cups) spelt flour
150 g (½ cup) sourdough starter
½ teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or apple scrap vinegar (page 240)
Splash of water
4 garlic cloves, crushed
100 g (1 cup) wild greens, blanched and chopped
1 small potato, cubed and parboiled
200 g (7 oz) feta cheese (other firm cheeses work well too), chopped
Drizzle of olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Pinch of ground nutmeg
Grated parmesan cheese, to sprinkle (optional)
1. To make the sourdough pie crust, combine the flour, sourdough starter, salt, olive oil and vinegar in a large bowl. Mix well with your hands until you have a firm dough. If it’s too wet, add a little more flour. If it’s too dry, add a splash of water. Tip the dough out onto a floured board and form it into a fat disc. Wrap it in a large beeswax wrap (see page 166) or waxed paper and leave it in a cool place for at least 2 hours or overnight.
2. Once the dough is rested, turn it out onto a floured board again and give the centre a few whacks with the side of a rolling pin to loosen up the dough. Roll the dough into a 30 cm (12 inch) circle, rotating the board as you go to make this easier. Carefully transfer the dough to a well-greased baking tray. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F).
3. Combine all of the filling ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed.
Carefully spoon the filling into the middle of the pastry and spread it out to the edge, leaving a 5 cm (2 inch) border. Fold in the side of the pastry over the top of the filling, bit by bit. Top with the grated parmesan, if using.
4. Bake the galette for 30–40 minutes until the crust is brown and the filling is bubbling. Drizzle with olive oil and serve with a fresh salad, wild fruit leathers (page 258), dandelion coffee (page 268) and good friends.
We use spelt flour as it’s available locally, but you can use whatever flour you like – you’ll just need to watch as you’re adding the liquid to make sure you get the right consistency for the dough.
If you don’t have a sourdough starter, you can replace it with the same volume of yoghurt. Alternatively, you can replace it with the same volume of flour, but your mixture may need a little more water.
Our neighbours Meg, Patrick and Woody are a family of dedicated foragers who grow, scavenge, swap and hunt for nearly everything they need. This is their recipe for delicious wild fruit leathers. We actually have to hide these at our house, otherwise they’re all eaten rather quickly. With the bite of hawthorn and the sweetness of apple, the leathers are fantastic as trail and travel food, or whenever you need a sweet, chewy hit of vitamin-rich goodness. You’ll need to harvest a bowl of ripe hawthorn berries without the leaves and stems. The fastest way to do this is to strip a branch by clenching your fingers around it and pulling down hard. If you have sensitive hands you may want to use gloves.
800 g (4 cups) ripe hawthorn berries
6 wild apples, peeled, cored and sliced
Spices, to taste, such as ground cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, pepper or ground dried orange zest
1. Start by mashing the hawthorn berries. If it’s been a wet year, the berries will be juicy; if it’s been dry, you’ll need to add some water. Start by adding a little water, then mash the berries with your hands or a potato masher. The consistency you’re looking for is a thick paste. If the mixture is still too dry, add a splash more water.
2. Place a cup of the berry paste into a fine sieve over a clean bowl and use a spoon or a potato masher to push the berries through the sieve. Scrape the gel that forms on the underside of the sieve into the bowl (the gel is full of pectin, especially earlier in the fruiting season). Keep pushing the berry paste through the sieve until only the pips and skin are left inside the sieve – these can go to your chickens or compost. Repeat with the remaining berry paste. You’ve now done the most difficult part of the recipe.
3. While all this sieving is going on, gently stew the apples with a splash of water until they’re soft.
4. Mash the stewed apples and add them to the hawthorn gel, which will have started to set to a thick jelly. Mix thoroughly, adding whatever spices take your fancy (sugar is not needed).
5. Spread the fruit mixture evenly over a sheet of baking paper or a silicone mat until about 4 mm (¼ inch) thick. Set it aside to dry in a warm place or a dehydrator, turning so both sides dry. Once the fruit leather is completely dry (this will take 1–2 hot days), cut it into strips or pieces and store in a jar in a cool place.