"Shakshuka" is a traditional Tunisian breakfast composed of simmered tomatoes, peppers, aromatics and poached eggs. It's meant to be spicy, which is a nifty DIY method for keeping cool in the Saharan heat. (The more you sweat, the more you cool off.) As for us, it's a warm meal that screams comfort food, perfect in the dead of winter.

The Tunisians call shakshuka breakfast, but I've added sausage, spinach and chickpeas and prefer to call it dinner. It's delicious as is, served with crusty bread for mopping up the egg yolk and the sauce. For a complete meal, spoon prepared couscous into shallow serving bowls. Make a well in the center of the couscous, and ladle the ragout and egg into the center of the couscous.

Prepare this in a deep 10-inch skillet and serve family-style at the table. If you have individual skillets (pictured), then prepare the ragout in one large skillet or pot. Before you add the eggs, divide the ragout between individual skillets placed on the stovetop over medium heat, and add one egg to each skillet. Chard or kale leaves may be substituted for the spinach.

 

Sausage Tomato Ragout With Poached Eggs and Chickpeas

Active Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Serves: 4 to 6

 

• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

• 1/2 pound hot Italian or chorizo sausage, sliced 1/2 inch thick

• 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)

• 1 large garlic clove, minced

• 2 teaspoons smoked paprika

• 2 teaspoons sweet paprika

• 1 teaspoon ground cumin

• 1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes with juice

• 1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

• 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

• 1 to 2 teaspoons harissa or hot sauce, to taste

• 1 bunch spinach, stems discarded, leaves coarsely chopped

• 4 to 6 large eggs

• Chopped fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish

 

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a deep ovenproof skillet over medium-high. Add the sausage and brown on all sides, about 4 minutes. Transfer the sausage with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with a paper towel. Discard the oil from the pan, but do not rinse out the skillet.

Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and the onion to the skillet and saute over medium heat until the onion begins to soften, about 2 minutes, scraping up any brown bits. Add the garlic, paprika and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Return the sausage to the pan and add the tomatoes, chickpeas, salt and harissa. Stir to combine and taste for seasoning. If more heat is desired, add more harissa or hot sauce to taste.

Simmer the ragout, partially covered, over medium-low heat, to slightly thicken and allow the flavors to develop, about 20 minutes, stirring and breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon. Stir in the spinach and cook until slightly wilted, about 2 minutes.

Make an indentation or well in the ragout with a spoon. Crack 1 egg in a small bowl and gently slide the egg into the indentation. Repeat with the remaining eggs, taking care to not overlap the eggs. Cover the skillet and simmer over medium-low heat until the egg whites are set but the yolks remain runny, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Remove from heat. Serve family style or spoon the ragout with 1 egg into individual serving bowls. Garnish with chopped fresh cilantro or parsley.

Lynda Balslev is the co-author of "Almonds: Recipes, History, Culture" (Gibbs Smith, 2014). Contact her at TasteFood, c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106, or send email to TasteFood@TasteFoodBlog.com. Or visit the TasteFood blog at TasteFoodBlog.com.