Spinach Shakshouka

So you are probably wondering what on earth you are looking at. At least that was my reaction when I first saw a picture of shakshouka. The dish of poached eggs in a spicy tomato sauce is often served for breakfast with crusty bread and has North African and Middle Eastern roots, but I can't claim to know how it is traditionally prepared. This is just a riff off of this beautiful smitten kitten recipe I found a while back and can't stop making.
 I wanted a more hearty version of it, since I find myself eating shakshouka for dinner as well as breakfast. To bulk up the meal, I added sweet peppers, some spinach and more onion, and I kicked it up a notch with some extra spice! This one-pan meal is filled with warming, earthy flavors like cumin and cayenne pepper that are perfect for these cold months ahead. And since the dish is almost entirely veggies, it is relatively easy on the wallet  something I always appreciate moving into December.

 There are also a few other things to love about this meal:
  • Boosts immune system: Tomatoes, spinach and peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C. 
  • Promotes healthy skin/cells: Tomatoes, spinach and peppers are also rich in vitamin A, which is needed for cell repair and regeneration.
  • Promotes strong bones: Cooked spinach is high in vitamin K and calcium. Vitamin K makes sure minerals are deposited into the bones where they are needed.
  • Contributes to healthy body and brain function: Spinach is rich in iron that our body needs to transport oxygen.
  • Reduces risk of cancer: Cooked tomatoes are rich in the phytochemical lycopene, which is associated with the significant reduction of prostate cancer in men especially when consumed with fat (egg yolk) to aid the absorption of lycopene. Other studies strongly suggest lycopene may protect against stomach, lung, oral, breast and cervical cancers as well.
  • Promotes eye health: Eggs and spinach contain the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that that promote eye health by preventing macular degeneration. The fat from the egg yolk also helps absorb them.
  • Provides great source of protein: Eggs contain all nine essential amino acids that our body needs but cannot synthesize. 
  • Contains choline (in the eggs), an essential part of the phospholipid phosphatidylcholine, which helps our bodies ensure that fat and cholestrol do not accumulate in the liver.

There are certainly more benefits, but I'll leave my list at that for now. If you want to read more about the benefits of certain foods, I highly recommend The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth by Dr. Jonny Bowden (C.N.S).

Spinach Shakshuka 
Serves 4
Prep time: 10 min.
Cooking time: 30 mins.

3 T. olive oil
2 medium onions, diced in 1/2-inch pieces
1 yellow bell pepper, diced in 1/2-inch pieces
4 sweet pointed red peppers or 2 red bell peppers, diced in 1/2-inch pieces
6 PadrĂ³n peppers or 1-2 fresh jalapeno pepper without seeds, finely diced (adjust to taste)
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 T. ground paprika 
13/4 tsp. cumin
1/8-1/4 cayenne pepper (adjust to taste)
1/2 tsp. salt (adjust to taste)
2 15oz. cans of diced tomatoes
3-4 large handfuls baby spinach or roughly chopped regular spinach
6 large eggs
1/2 cup feta
Black pepper

Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with crusty bread, hash browns or oven roasted potatoes

1. In a large pan on medium heat, add olive oil and saute onions along with the sweet and hot peppers for about 7 minutes until the onions are soft and begin to lightly brown.
2. Add in the crushed garlic and spices. Stir and saute for about a minute until the spices are aromatic.
3. Add diced tomatoes, stir to combine and turn heat down to med-low. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes without top on for the sauce to reduce.
4. Toss spinach on top of sauce, cover the pan with a lid until the spinach has wilted and then mix spinach into the sauce.
5. Take a large spoon to create six evenly distributed pockets in the sauce and crack the eggs into them. Cover pan, turn heat back up to medium heat and cook until the egg whites set and yolks are soft, about 4 minutes. 
6. Crumble feta over the top, cover lid and cook for another minute. 
7. Garnish with parsley, season with black pepper and serve immediately with crusty bread or hash browns.

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