by Dominic Franks from DomInTheKitchen.com @DomInTheKitchen
These gloomy January days get me thinking about travel to warmer climes and some of the wonderful adventures I’ve been on. For me, travel is very often about food discovery, and I love bringing some of that back with me so I can try to bring to life those food-memories. This spicy stew is my take on the middle eastern and north African shakshuka which is a spiced tomato stew with eggs baked in the sauce. There’s something wonderful about the rich, slow-cooked tomatoes and lentils mixed with the underlying depth of cumin, cayenne and paprika that works so well and is the perfect antidote to this cold, grey month.
It’s totally ‘peasant food’ which is my favourite way to cook. Un-fussy and basic but packed with flavour. I’ve added all kinds of things that would never have traditionally been in the dish but that’s the glory of cooking, isn’t it? Being able to take something you love and adapting it to your tastes and what’s available to you. Food is one of the best ways we as humans can explore other cultures. We can then play and experiment to our personal tastes. This blending of culture is what I love so much about food and I'd hate to live in a world where we’re not all encouraged to explore.
Cooking Time: 70mins
For the soup
- olive oil and butter
- 6 sausages – cut into slices (I used Cauldron vegetarian sausages, but any sausages will work)
- 1 large white onion – finely chopped
- 2 celery sticks – finely chopped
- 1 large carrot – finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- 100g green beans – chopped
- 1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
- 100g red lentils
- 1/2 litre vegetable stock
- small glass of white wine
- 150g watercress and chopped coriander
- 4 large free-range eggs
In a large casserole dish gently heat some butter and olive oil and then throw in the sausages and fresh thyme and brown them well for at least 6 minutes, turning frequently.
Add the onions, carrots, and celery, plus all the spices and slowly sauté until the veg are soft and the seasoning is beginning to warm up nicely, then add the green beans and lentils and stir well, then add the tomatoes and stir together.
Add the stock and white wine, stir well, turn down the heat to its very lowest and let the whole thing gently simmer for at least an hour (stir every 10 mins or so and after half an hour, place the lid on.)
Season well with salt and pepper, stir in the watercress and chopped coriander and place the lid back on the pot for 10 minutes.
When you’re ready to add the eggs, take a little spoon and make a small well in the stew, then crack in an egg, move to the next spot, make a well and crack in another egg. Turn the heat off, place the lid back on and let the eggs cook in the heat of the stew until the whites turn white and the yolks become beautifully soft – this takes roughly 10 minutes by which time your stew is the perfect temperature to eat!
Make sure you take the eggs out of the fridge a good 15 mins before using so they reach room temperature, as this will help them cook quicker.