For your first full day of camping, Shakshuka is the ideal campfire breakfast: it only takes a single pan or casserole, cooks pretty quickly, looks impressive – especially given the low workload – can feed a small amount and is both very aromatic and filling , especially when eaten with pieces of bread. (There is also something incredibly satisfying about watching it boil and simmer on the crack of a living fire.)
Hailing from North Africa, the dish is traditionally made by poaching eggs in a base made from tomatoes, peppers, onions and oil. For her version, Nettie Colón increases the stakes with eggplant and fresh mozzarella, as well as homemade (and pre-made) piri piri sauce, which she uses as a kind of deeply flavorful Sofrito base. You can customize Shakshuka with any number of spices, but Colón prefers Mexican oregano and a triad of ground cumin, coriander, and fennel: the combination of the three creates “a huge flavor profile that is just beautiful and delicious when cooked over the fire.” Colon says. As a prep tip, she recommends mixing them up before leaving, which means less baggage and excitement at the campsite – you can instead use this time to enjoy your coffee, look at the surroundings and plan your day while breakfast is busy simmering.
Campfire Shakshuka Recipe
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp piri piri sauce (see recipe here)
1 tablespoon of Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon each of ground cumin, ground coriander, ground fennel
1 medium-sized yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced through the root end
2 large sweet peppers, stems and seeds removed, thinly sliced
1 medium eggplant, chopped into ½ inch pieces
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
½ teaspoon of salt
1 28-ounce can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes (such as Muir Glen)
2 bay leaves (optional)
1 large fresh mozzarella ball cut into 4 thick slices
¼ cup chopped coriander
2 green onions, chopped
1 serrano chilli, thinly sliced
4 pieces naan
Heat the oil in a cast iron pan over a medium flame. Add the piri piri sauce, oregano, cumin, coriander and fennel and sauté for 2 minutes until fragrant.
Add the onions, peppers, eggplant, brown sugar, and salt and sauté, stirring frequently, for 10 to 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
Add tomatoes, simmer gently and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened and the vegetables have crumbled a little.
Use a large spoon to add 8 small dips to the sauce. Carefully break the eggs into 4 of the dips. Add the fresh mozzarella slices to the remaining 4 dips. Cover the pan with a lid and simmer for 10 to 20 minutes until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still runny.
Take the pan off the fire and set it aside for a few minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Season with salt, pepper and sugar as needed. Serve with the naan bread on individual plates and top with coriander, spring onions and serrano chilli slices.
Nettie Colón is the roaming cook and founder of Minneolis’ Red Hen Gastrolab, dubbed “the persistent pop-up.” Dina Avila is a photographer based in Portland, Oregon.
Recipe tested by Ivy Manning