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Shakshuka With Cherry Tomatoes and Basil

During summer months, Israeli Farmers Markets offer an especially dazzling array of cherry tomatoes. Most of them come from the Negev desert, where a combination of arid heat and saline brakish water (used for irrigation) yield tomatoes of incomparable sweetness. This refined take on shakshuka is based on a recipe by Shir Halpern and was originally published in Al Hashulchan in July 2005. Several years later Shir went on to become the co-founder of the first Farmers Market in Israel. Now there are 5 of them, scattered from Jerusalem to Cesaria, and counting (www.farmersmarket.co.il).   

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 250 g (1/2 lb) cherry plum tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small chili pepper, seeded and chopped (or less, to taste)
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 4 sprigs fresh basil (leaves only) torn
  • 6 eggs
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 100 g (4 oz) soft goat cheese, sliced
  • basil leaves for garnish

  1. Gently heat olive oil with chili pepper and garlic in a large and deep skillet, taking care not to scorch the garlic. 
  2. Add cherry tomatoes and basil and sauté for 5-7 minutes, until tomatoes become very soft and the sauce sickens. Season with salt and fresh black pepper.
  3. Create small craters in the sauce and slide the eggs, one by one, into the craters. Cook on low-medium heat, for 3-5 minutes, depending on how you like your eggs. If you prefer them over easy, cover the skillet. Arrange goat cheese slices, garnish with fresh basil and serve at once, in the skillet, with a lot of crusty bread to mop up the sauce.

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photo: Ronen Mangen (from "Al Hashulchan" magazine)



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