Adventures in Israel

I recently took a trip to Israel, where I wandered the streets of Tel Aviv in search of deliciousness around every corner. From the small stalls in bustling downtown neighborhoods, to the large luxurious restaurants tucked next to the shorefront boardwalk, the flavors of Israel do not disappoint.

Hummus, fresh pita, zaatar served with onion wedges for dipping!

 

 

the daily central market place is colorful, fresh and bustling with activity as shoppers stock up for a day of cooking.

 

fresh pomegranate juice!

On the hunt for spices!

Not to mention, this place is uber rich in history as well as a mecca of active outdoor adventure enthusiasts. The Mediterranean coastline is appointed with beautiful beaches complete with outdoor ‘gyms’ (think: Venice Beach), pools, and an expansive boardwalk for runners, cyclists, and those just looking for a picturesque stroll. With the waters sprinkled with surfers, paddle boarders, kayakers and seaports of all kinds – this place is an outdoor sports paradise.

 

 

Of course I had to get a piece the adventure-ing on the sparkling Mediterranean Sea

History in action on the streets of Jerusalem

SHISO FRESH IS CHEF JESSICA ROY OF SHISO KITCHEN IN BOSTON, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR OF ‘YOUR PERSONAL CHEF’ FOR THE LOWELL SUN WHERE YOU CAN FIND THESE AND MORE RECIPES WEEKLY. FOLLOW ALONG ON SOCIAL MEDIA VIA @SHISOFRESH AND @SHISOKITCHEN

Shakshouka!

Say it with me now, ‘Shakshouka!’. That’s SHACK-SHOO-KA, and its as much fun to eat as it is to say. I’ve been meaning to write this recipe for a couple of months now, as it was inspired by a recent trip to Israel, where I fell in love with this rich eastern Mediterranean side dish. Shaksouka is a saucy dish made of slow simmering tomatoes, peppers, garlic and spices finished with eggs poached right in the skillet atop it all. Served with fresh pita, the whole experience is to be enjoyed by ripping off a piece of the warmed bread, dipping it into the creamy egg yolk and swirling it all around the rest of the sauce before taking that coveted bite.

For this recipe, I’ve used a small 8-inch cast iron skillet, but a 9 or 10 inch pan will do just fine. If you don’t have cast iron, use a heavy saute pan of a similar size. While fire roasting the red pepper yourself makes for an extra flavorful sauce, picking up a jar of roasted red peppers will do just fine if you don’t have the time. Also, I’m using canned diced tomatoes here, but if you are lucky to be in possession of some juicy sweet summer garden tomatoes, feel free to dice them up and use them- about 3 medium sized tomatoes should do the trick. Wondering what else to serve with your Shakshouka? Spiced chicken kabobs, cous cous salad, and creamy hummus round out an entire Mediterranean feast!

Shakshouka

  • 1 red bell pepper OR 1/2 c. diced roasted red pepper from a jar
  • 1, 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/8 tsp. all spice
  • 2 tsp. dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • fresh mint leaves
  • pita bread or chips, for serving
  1. To roast the red pepper: Trim the stem down to the base. Place the pepper directly onto an open flame on a gas stove or grill, and allow it to char and blacken on all sides. Put the pepper into a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap for about 5 minutes. Using paper towels, clean the charred skin from the pepper completely. Remove the stem and seeds, and dice the pepper into small 1/4 inch pieces.
  2. Heat a cast iron skilled over medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil, minced shallots and garlic, along with the cumin and all spice. Stir to coat, and allow the shallots, garlic and spices to gently sizzle until fragrant and tender- about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Pour the entire can of diced tomatoes, and juice, into the pan along with the shallots and garlic. Add the roasted red pepper, and brown sugar along with 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and pinch of ground black pepper. Give a good stir, and bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, and allow to simmer gently for 30 minutes. Taste the sauce, and season with additional salt and pepper as desired.
  4. Using a spoon, make 3 small wells in the sauce. Crack 1 egg into each of the wells, and then cover the entire pan with foil. Increase the heat to medium, and allow to cook for 5-7 minutes until the egg whites are set, and yolks are still runny.
  5. Remove the pan from heat, and sprinkle freshly torn mint leaves over the top of the Shakshouka. Serve the whole skillet on the table along with fresh pita or pita chips.

 

 

SHISO FRESH IS CHEF JESSICA ROY OF SHISO KITCHEN IN BOSTON, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR OF ‘YOUR PERSONAL CHEF’ FOR THE LOWELL SUN WHERE YOU CAN FIND THESE AND MORE RECIPES WEEKLY. FOLLOW ALONG ON SOCIAL MEDIA VIA @SHISOFRESH AND @SHISOKITCHEN