This eggplant shakshuka adds tender sautéed eggplant and Moroccan spice blend, ras el hanout, to this classic poached egg and tomato sauce meal.
This eggplant shakshuka may change your feelings about eggplant. Forever. The sultry, smoky flavor of the ras al hanout spice blend does the heavy lifting here, and the sauce that results just may inspire you to put down your fork and ponder other uses for it. And that eggplant? Almost becomes an afterthought.–Jenny Howard
For the eggplant shakshuka
- 1 medium (3/4 to 1 lb) eggplant
- 4 to 5 tablespoons olive oil plus more for drizzling
- 1 small onion diced 1/4 inch (6 mm)
- 1 garlic clove thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon store-bought or homemade ras el hanout
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 2 cups tomato passata or canned tomatoes blitzed in the blender with a little added water if needed
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 large eggs
- 2 ounces feta crumbled, or more to taste
- Small handful cilantro leaves roughly chopped (optional)
- Fresh red or green chile pepper sliced paper thin (optional)
- Toasted sourdough bread (optional)
Make the eggplant shakshuka
- Preheat the oven to 400°F (204°C).
- Trim the stem end of the eggplant and then cut the eggplant in half lengthwise. Quarter each half lengthwise to create 8 full-length wedges.
☞TESTER TIP: You can always thickly slice the eggplant crosswise into circles and then slice them in half if you prefer a presentation that’s a little less visually stunning and a little easier to scoop from the skillet.
- In a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat, warm 3 tablespoons of oil until shimmering but not smoking. Working in batches if necessary to keep from crowding the pan, fry the eggplant until well-browned, 4 to 5 minutes per side. It may be necessary to add an additional tablespoon oil between batches. Transfer the eggplant to a plate.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion to the skillet along with another tablespoon of oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Add the ras el hanout smoked paprika, tomato paste, and sugar and stir well. Pour in the tomato passata and season generously with salt and pepper.
☞TESTER TIP: If the sauce seems a touch too thick at this point, simply stir in a little water to loosen it slightly. Figure up to 1/3 or even 1/2 cup water as needed.
- Arrange the eggplant wedges in the sauce and simmer until the eggplant is fork-tender but not mushy, 5 to 10 minutes.
- Remove the skillet from the heat. Taste the sauce and, if desired, adjust the seasoning.
- Make 6 small gaps in the sauce between the eggplant wedges.
- Working with 1 egg at a time, crack the egg over a bowl, allowing a little of the white to fall away. Place the egg in a small bowl or saucer and pour it into a gap in the sauce. Repeat with the remaining eggs. Reserve the remaining egg whites for another use.
- Sprinkle half the feta over the eggs and sauce. If desired, drizzle a little more oil over everything.
- Slide the skillet in the preheated oven and cook until the eggs reach the desired doneness, about 5 minutes if you like the yolks still runny and about 7 minutes for eggs cooked to medium.
- Scatter with the remaining feta. If desired, drizzle the shakshuka with a little more olive oil, sprinkle with the cilantro and/or chiles, add a pinch of salt, and don’t forget some toasted sourdough bread to mop up every last bit of sauce.
Spicier Eggplant ShakshukaTo warm things up in this shakshuka, we like to spike it with a modest (or maybe not-so-modest) dollop of harissa or a sprinkle of dried chile such as Aleppo pepper directly into the sauce as it simmers. The optional fresh chile slices at the end are, of course, still optional. You do you.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
Shakshuka is a favorite at our house. This recipe appealed to me because of the spicy and smoky flavor profile and the excuse to bring out my ras el hanout. This recipe did not disappoint. The flavour was complex and warming and the aromas filled my kitchen with the expectation of a great meal!
The eggplant texture was meaty with a bit of creamy. The eggs were the usual sinful offering of soft, creamy yolk mixing with tomato-y and cheese-y neighborings. I liked that not all the egg white was used as this increased the richness of the sauce. The final sprinkling of cilantro and fresh feta freshened up the flavors in a complimentary way.
Of course, I served this on slices of toasted sourdough bread! My family of three feasted on this for dinner and I still had a leftover portion for my work lunch the following day. I just added a fresh egg which cooked while the shakshuka warmed up in the microwave. Very successful leftover shakshuka and great eggplant dish!
I’ve always wanted to try shakshuka but I tend to be at a brunch restaurant when I see it on the menu and French toast will always be my order in the morning. This is a lovely, flavorful dish. It’s surprisingly easy to make and simple to clean up, which is a bonus.
I used store-bought ras al hanout and wish I’d invested in a premium one or made my own as this dish deserves it. Deep flavors and exotic aromas filled the house. We dove right in and had this hearty meal with sourdough. A visually stunning dish that can be easily individualized with ramekins to switch from homey casual to dinner party chic.
The smoky eggplant is lovely and, for some fussy eaters, chopping it smaller may help with the texture. We used lovely fresh eggs that really shone in this dish. I cooked the eggs over easy for fussy eaters. I used cilantro and 1 small green jalapeno, which I julienned.
This is a meal you want to cook with your friends so they can see how these flavors can build in complexities. Then, devour it all, sopping up with great bread.
An excellent variation for eggplant lovers, this shakshuka is special enough for brunch or breakfast for dinner. I loved the eggplant and the smoky paprika worked well with the ras el hanout. The flavors are excellent and the eggplant doesn’t mind being made ahead and reheated.
Even for those of us who absolutely adore eggplant, there are always ways to make sure it’s great. In cooking the wedges, I marched them boldly up to just a shade before slightly charred, pressing down on the wedges to make sure that while well kizzened, the interior was getting silken. There is no eggplant sin worse than undercooking. The eggplant really has to get thoroughly cooked in the skillet at the beginning as once submerged in the sauce, it won’t change appreciably. Undercooked eggplant is the main reason many people don’t have good experiences or think they don’t like it. I took a few minutes extra at the beginning because that is when you really are going to cook the eggplant.
Adding the onion to the now-empty skillet, it picked up color and was nicely browning, so I dropped the temperature of the burner a bit and, in addition to another tablespoon of oil, gave it a spray or splash of water once or twice to pick up the fond and not scorch. The freshly ground spices took only a few minutes to prepare. My ras el hanout was fragrant and had just enough heat.
A clever host might prepare the shakshuka up to just before you add the eggs the evening before and reheat it before adding the eggs, feta, etc., the next morning. I intended on splitting this for us anyway, as we are just two people, so at that point I reserved half for the next day. I transferred half the batch to a smaller skillet. After gently arranging the now quite nicely cooked eggplant and sauce, I tipped in the eggs from individual custard cups and sprinkled with the feta. I would say be generous with the feta if you like as it adds a great contrast to the smoky and intense sauce. We like our egg whites thoroughly cooked and the yolks not overcooked or solid. This took 9 minutes. We got perfectly cooked whites and soft, custard-like yolks. Your oven may vary and, of course, if you didn’t transfer the batch to a second pan, it will start our a bit hotter, so definitely keep an eye on them and check at 7 minutes.
We both thought it was quite good, though to be fair, the sauce could be a little brighter (maybe a bit more passata or a diced tomato) and we aren’t as wild about raw jalapeños so I will cook them along with the onions next time I make this or slice them paper thin.
I would seriously consider 3 tips:
Add more passata or a disced ripe tomato to the sauce to brighten it a bit and make it a little less thick to better next the eggs
Add the jalapeño slices in the cooking (with the onions perhaps) or slice them paper thin.
For guests, I would bake the final egg phase (in the oven) in individual coquettes or gratin dishes.
Making your own fresh batch of ras el hanoot is easy and worthwhile. I had tossed some that sat around too long waiting for me to use it in my last pantry cleaning, and am glad I made this fresh batch. I used Mutti 3x tomato paste and Strianese passata. The spears of aubergine might arrange better in an oval gratin.
I reserved half the shakshuka for breakfast the next morning and tried one of the things I thought should work, moving it to individual coquettes or gratin dishes. This also could work with miniature cast iron lodge skillets, since the acid sauce isn’t doing a long while in the cast iron though generally I try to use enameled cookware with acids.
We liked it both ways—the flavors are excellent and the eggplant doesn’t mind being made ahead and reheated. The spears of aubergine might arrange better in an oval gratin.
This sauce is everything. Full stop. I was blown away by how much flavor was developed in such a short amount of time and my household, armed with torn-off hunks of bread, ended up fighting over the last smears of sauce left in the skillet. I’m already dreaming about using the sauce for other applications, such as for a lamb ragu or to poach some cod. The eggplant ended up wonderfully silken and tender, nestled between soft-cooked eggs and feta. A real winner I will be remaking often.
The spices in this recipe do most of the heavy lifting on flavor, so use this as an excuse to order some fresh ones if yours have lost their freshness.
I didn’t have any passata so I blitzed a 14.5-oz can of tomatoes in the blender and topped it off with some water to get to the 2 cups required with no detriment in flavor, a useful trick since I always have these cans in the house.
I personally didn’t feel the fresh chile pepper at the end brought anything to the dish and felt a little out of place. If you wanted extra heat, adding a small amount of harissa to the tomato paste earlier in the recipe might be a better move or using something like Aleppo pepper or urfa fiber at the end for a more nuanced heat.
I order my spices from Spice Station Silverlake, in LA. They mail-order spices and are really exceptional. Everything is ground fresh at the time of your order.
I used Muti Double Concentrate tomato paste from the squeeze tube.
My market only had jalapeños so I used that. personally I would prefer instead a dried chile like Aleppo or urfa biber instead.
The eggplant was very tender but still holding its shape after cooking. When I added the onions, I added salt and pepper as well. (I used 1 3/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp ground black pepper.) I found I didn’t need to season later in the recipe.
I allowed roughly half the egg white to fall away into a bowl before I added the egg to the skillet. The layer of sauce wasn’t very deep so the lower volume of egg stayed contained better. I found that the eggs were done (custardy but not fully set yolk) at 4 to 5 minutes, so certainly keep an eye on them. I used my leftover whites to make a half batch of meringue cookies, which nobody complained about!
I used Georgian shoti puri bread for dipping.
Originally published August 03, 2020