For some reason, I have an excessive amount of tomato paste. So much tomato paste. The most tomato paste. So I’ve been trying to find things to make to get rid of this stockpile of tomato paste. I made ketchup one time and it is seriously some of the best ketchup I’ve ever had. And I’m not really a big ketchup fan. But this post is not about ketchup. It is about shakshuka.
Shakshuka is a dish of most likely Middle Eastern/North African origin, often accredited to Tunisia. It consists of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, onions, chilies, and some cumin. It’s delicious. Really great breakfast. So I made some in hopes to get rid of some tomato paste.
I technically didn’t make shakshuka, I guess. I made something inspired by it. Because along with the tomato paste and tomatoes that I was getting rid of, I wanted to get rid of some sherry. There is no sherry, or any other alcohol, in shakshuka. But there are alcohol soluble flavors in tomatoes and I had alcohol that I wanted to get rid of. Soooo…in it went.
In the end, my tomato base involved a bell pepper, (chopped), half an onion (chopped), 5-6 cloves of garlic (minced), as many tomatoes as I wanted to get rid of (chopped), a splash of sherry, as much water as I needed to get the consistency I wanted, a large handful of fresh spinach, a small fistful of crushed red pepper (I like spicy food), and salt, pepper, sugar, cumin, and paprika to taste. I poached two eggs in the sauce toward the end of the simmering time. And I’ve served it with both waffled tots and toasted sourdough.
And it’s so good.
Um…I totally meant to update the post last weekend when I thought I would have some time. But…I didn’t end up having any time. Because work. Yay. I’m back at clib and that takes up a lot of my time. So really, last week was just a preview. And this week, I’ll tell you what I actually did. Huzzah!
Some months ago, a family friend gave me a giant bag of figs. Unfortunately, I don’t really like figs. Unless they’re in Fig Newton form. And even then, it’s not that I particularly like Fig Newtons. I just think figs are much more palatable that way. I don’t really have anything against the taste or texture of figs. In fact, I really like lots of seeds. It drives my mom crazy when I make raspberry desserts and don’t strain out the seeds or when I insist on getting seeded jams. You’d think I’d really like figs. But…I don’t. I’m not really sure why.
Anyway, I didn’t know what to do with the huge bag of figs then so I just washed them and stemmed them and threw them into the freezer. And then I came across them a few weeks back when I was taking an inventory of my freezer. I figured I could do something with them and take it to a pot luck lunch I was attending.
I found this recipe awhile ago and thought it would be perfect. Now obviously, I had to make some changes to the recipe. It calls for fresh figs and mine were frozen. But since the figs were being baked into a cake or otherwise made into preserves, I figured that the texture difference from freezing wouldn’t make a huge difference. Since I froze whole figs, I had to defrost them first and then put them through the food processor to get largish chunks. A set aside a portion to make preserves and the rest went into the cake.
It turned out rather nicely. It was a rather pretty cake. I’m not a big fan of frosting, so I didn’t mind that it was essentially naked. The cake itself wasn’t too sweet and had a pretty nice texture, a little denser than you might think which worked well to hold up against the fruit. When paired with the preserves, it had a slightly floral vibe that was light and refreshing. It was nice for a hot day.
I had extra preserves and I had brought that along too. I was really amused to find people just eating it on its own. They would spoon it into their bowl and just eat it plain as if it were its own dish. But, it meant that I got rid of nearly 5lb of figs in one fell swoop. Totally into that.