Besides hiding from the heat, I've been doing a lot of cooking for one lately.
Cooking for one is one of those things that I don't remember how it feels like until I dive back into it for a while. It starts off with the excitement of trying something new and different. I'll peruse my bookshelf for new recipes to try or look up random ingredient combinations. I'm all about using up things in my freezer, fridge and pantry so if it includes that, extra bonus points! Then, it's a trip to the grocery store where I revel in the super high AC and talk myself out of buying too many things for one person to eat. These days, my weekends have been dedicated to cooking since it's nice to be able to heat things up during the week. Meal prep really does work!
So I cook. There's been a 9"x13" pan of stuffed pasta, another of enchiladas, a pot of beef stew, slow cooked ribs, a sheet pan of wonton and this shakshuka dish twice. The cooking part is mostly the same except I can easily blast music now without disrupting a studying sister. What's different is that eating the same food can get kind of boring after a while. So I've resorted to freezing half and then rotating things after a few weeks. But on days when it's still 108ºF when I get home from work and cooking is a no-option, those freezer meals start to look really good again until I clear it all out and get excited to try something new and different.
This Couscous Shakshuka from Molly's new cookbook is one of those new and different things I decided I would take a stab at. Eggy dishes have been all the rage lately and while eggs and I haven't always been on the same terms, I'm generally down to eat a perfectly cooked egg if my stomach is.
I made some slight modifications to the original recipe except I think I will call them accidents. The first time I bought the wrong type of tomatoes—pureed instead of chopped. The second time I again bought the wrong type of tomatoes—but that time crushed. I would go with the original chopped as I think you'll be more likely to have saucier results than the above. The second modification was with the couscous. I couldn't find any Israeli couscous so I just used regular couscous which is different! Regular couscous is a lot smaller than Israeli couscous so this means that it is likely to soak up a lot more liquid. You can either fix this by added less couscous (½ cup vs. ¾ cup) or add ½ cup more broth.
And be sure to watch your eggs. The second time I made this I was trying to multitask like crazy and ended up overcooking my eggs :(. It's pretty sad when you unintentionally overcook your eggs and I promise that the dish does not taste the same with overcooked eggs.
Here's to trying new things and to the beginning of another summer.
From Molly on the Range
Yield: 4 servings
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling.
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon harissa, or more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- Black pepper
- Crushed red pepper
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 can or carton (28 ounces) chopped tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¾ cup Israeli couscous or ½ cup regular couscous (optional)
- ½ cup vegetable broth
- 4 large eggs
- ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
- A handful of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
In a large skillet, heat the 3 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until soft and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, harissa, smoked paprika, a good pinch of salt, a few turns of black pepper, and a pinch of red chili flakes and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, then the chopped tomatoes and sugar. If you're hungry and short on time, crank the heat and go on to the egg step (and nix the couscous and broth). If you're patient and have the time, bring the mixture to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, stir in the Israeli couscous and broth, and simmer this sauce, covered, for at least 25 minutes or until the couscous is cooked, up to 1 hour or so, stirring occasionally. Add additional broth to thin the mixture if desired.
Taste the sauce and add additional spices if needed.
Create four little wells and crack in your eggs. Either baste the eggs by spooning hot tomato sauce over them, or just let them be in a sunny-side-up situation. When the whites are cooked but the yolks are still runny, remove from the heat. Sprinkle the eggs with a little salt and black pepper, drizzle with olive oil, top the whole pan with feta and parsley, and serve.