Do you frequently stumble across and make great dishes, and then promise yourself "I'll definitely be making that again"? I do this often, but the reality is that I come across so many great new dishes all the time that I seldom get around to revisiting some of those wonderful discoveries.
Not so with this dish. This was one of the first dishes I made when I got my copy of Plenty, by Yotam Ottolenghi, and I loved it so much it has become a regular round here. In fact, I've made it so many times that when I pick up the book it automatically falls open at this page, and there are a gazillion red, peppery splatters all over the page. Now that to me is the hallmark of a great recipe.
The other thing I love about this dish is that really it's just an "idea" - you can play around with it to suit yourself. Ottolenghi uses a combination of red and yellow peppers, but I nearly always only use red - I just like the visual richness of all that red contrasting with the single yellow hit of the egg yolk. I also like to add some chorizo sausage and a little preserved lemon. The original recipe contains onions, but I usually leave them out. This is traditionally eaten as a breakfast/brunch dish, and although I often have this for dinner, I nevertheless can't really face the idea of onions in what is breakfast food (just one of my funny little things). That said, I think there is more than enough flavour going on here, especially with the chorizo, to get by without the onions. I also like to swap out cayenne pepper for some harissa and I like to add a dash of pomegranate molasses. Feta cheese is a nice addition if you have it on hand, and I have even been known to add chickpeas on occasion.
The other great thing about this dish is that everything up to the point of adding the eggs can actually be prepared in advance - it can even be frozen at this stage in individual portions if you like, then you can just whip it out of the freezer before you go to bed, ready for breakfast the next morning.
Following is my adaptation of this wonderful dish, which I've prepared for our Optional Monthly Community Recipe at I Heart Cooking Clubs. The original recipe can be found here.
Adapted from recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe
1x medium sized chorizo sausage, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
4-8 red peppers (depending on size), thickly sliced (seeds discarded)
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2x bay leaves
small bunch thyme
generous handful fresh coriander (cilantro), roughly chopped
(plus extra for garnish)
6-8 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
generous pinch of saffron threads
2 tablespoons harissa
1/4 of a preserved lemon
flaky sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
free range eggs (1 or 2 per person)
Heat approximately 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small frypan over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo to the warmed pan and fry until the lightly browned. Remove the chorizo from the pan and set aside. Reserve the oil from the pan.
Now set a large, deepish, frying pan over high heat, and dry roast the cumin seeds for a minute or two until toasty and fragrant. Now add the reserved oil from cooking the chorizo, and another tablespoon or so of olive oil. Add the peppers, pomegranate molasses, brown sugar and herbs, and continue cooking on high (stirring regularly) until the peppers have started to caramelise - 5-10 minutes.
Add the chopped tomatoes, preserved lemon, saffron and harissa. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the peppers and tomatoes are soft, and the mixture has a pasta sauce consistency, adding a bit of water from time to time as necessary - about 15 minutes. Stir in the reserved chorizo sausage (and feta, if using), taste and adjust seasoning. You can prepare up to this stage in advance if you like - you could even freeze it at this stage.
Remove the bay leaves and thyme stalks, and discard. Now to add the eggs. If serving this in the one big pan, family style, use the back of a soup ladle to make some indentations in amongst the peppers, and drop an egg into each indentation. Sprinkle the eggs with salt, cover the pan, and cook over very low heat until the eggs have set to your liking - 10-12 minutes. For individual servings, divide the vegetable mixture among four ovenproof dishes. Again, using the back of a ladle, make an indentation in amongst the peppers and drop an egg into each indentation. Season. Place serving dishes in one large ovenproof dish, pour boiling water into the oven dish to about three-quarters of the height of the individual dishes. Cover the whole thing with tinfoil, and put into an oven preheated to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F), until the eggs are set - about 15 minutes.
Serve immediately sprinkled with freshly chopped coriander, and some warm flatbreads or crusty sourdough to mop up the juices.
If you would like to get to know Yotam Ottolenghi a little better, then do go and visit my friends at I Heart Cooking Clubs and see what they've all cooked up ...
... or check out Plenty and Ottolenghi's other great titles available from Amazon USA, Amazon UK or Fishpond NZ.
I will also be sharing this post at See Ya In the Gumbo hosted by the lovely Michelle at Ms. enPlace.