Skillet Eggs and Polenta

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And, finally, it rains. Not so joyous an occasion for sun bathers, felines, and other bitter Betsy-types, but most of California breathed a slight sigh of relief when the skies opened up this morning. My reaction? “I don’t have to water my plants!” and a beer was opened in observance of this glorious day. So, I’m in the celebration camp, but probably for the wrong (read: lazy) reasons.

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Homemade Ricotta

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I’m in a bit of an eggplant conundrum. He’s been staring up at me from the depths of my refrigerator for days praying that I will, for the love of god, just grill him already. I want to love him. I really do. He’s healthy and in good shape. But he’s just so…purple. And has all that leathery skin hanging around and, let’s face it, no one wants to deal with it. Sorry, bro. Ain’t nobody got time for dat.

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Shakshuka

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Never heard of it? Neither had I. But that is one of the many beauties of the internet— visual aids that provide us with the pretty pretty pictures we need in order to become interested. “This book has no pictures. Ergo, this book is a waste of space.”

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Shakshuka is a popular Israeli dish that has North African-roots. Eggs are poached in a spicy tomato sauce and served with pita. I saw some variations during my research that got creative with the vegetables and various cheeses, but overall: this is very, very easy and delightful. Most people have the basics on hand– canned tomatoes, eggs, onion, garlic, etc, so if you’re interested in a simple, healthy breakfast option, then I advise you to keep reading.

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I’ve been dabbling in homemade ricotta recently and found it to work beautifully in shakshuka. Some of it sort of melted into the sauce, but big chunks remained intact and were perfect for scooping up on the bread. My intention was to share this batch of cheese with my neighbors, but…that isn’t going to happen. Piggie has taken over my body and won’t let the concept of generosity interfere with my cheesy feeding frenzy.

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Shakshuka

3 T olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, diced fine
2 anaheim peppers, diced fine
2 carrots, diced fine
2 t paprika
1 t cumin
2 T tomato paste
2 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes
1 t sugar
2 t salt
pepper
7 eggs
1 c ricotta cheese (feta would also be quite nice)
flat leaf parsley
pita (or naan) for serving

In a large cast iron skillet or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium high. When hot, add the oil. Toss in the onion, garlic, pepper, and carrot, and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add spices and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, and sugar. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until reduced– about 10 minutes. One at a time, crack the eggs into a ladle. Push the ladle into the sauce to create a hole for the egg, turning it out into the sauce. Do this for all 7 eggs. With sauce on a low simmer, cover and cook 10-15 minutes. Add cheese a few minutes before eggs are set (sprinkle over the top– don’t mix in). Eggs may be a bit soft, but they will continue to cook in the sauce. Turn off heat and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with warm pita (I wanted garlic naan instead, which was great) and enjoy!

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