I always choose the sweet breakfast option. Except, that is, when shakshuka is on the menu. Eggs lightly poached in a sweet, fiery tomato and pepper stew, with a hunk of bread to mop up the juices. There are few things more comforting.
When I held a fundraising brunch, I wanted to include shakshuka in the breakfast spread. It needed to be in a form that people could eat with their hands, so I created little shakshuka tarts: rich yolks and tomato sauce offset by a bittersweet walnut and paprika pastry. One, two, three bites of heaven.
These tarts are perfect as part of a breakfast feast for friends, as mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks, or as evening canapés. Perfect anytime really. You can make the sauce and pastry in advance, then just roll, cut, fill and bake when needed.
(Makes approximately 10 tarts)
For the walnut pastry:
- 100g plain flour, sifted
- 50g cold unsalted butter
- 25g walnuts, finely ground in a food processor
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 free-range egg, beaten
For the shakshuka sauce:
Makes enough for a full shakshuka for two people, far more than you will need for these tarts. Enjoy the leftovers topped with a poached egg for breakfast, with herby bulgar wheat for lunch, or on top of a baked sweet potato for dinner.
- 1 red onion, finely sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, finely diced
- 1 red pepper, cut into 1-2cm dice
- A handful of ripe tomatoes, chopped
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- A few springs of parsley, leaves and finer stalks chopped
- A few springs of coriander, leaves and finer stalks chopped
For the filling:
- 10 egg yolks (you can use the leftover whites to make meringues or financiers)
1 x 12-hole cupcake tin
- First, make the pastry. Tip the flour and butter into a bowl with a pinch of salt. Rub the mixture together with your fingertips until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir in the walnuts and paprika.
- Slowly add enough of the beaten egg to bind the mixture, stirring it in with a knife. Knead the pastry briefly until smooth, flatten into a disc, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
- Now make your shakshuka sauce. Heat a splash of oil in a frying pan, and fry the onion and garlic on a low-medium heat until softened and starting to turn golden. Add the pepper and continue to fry for a few minutes.
- Add the spices and fry for a minute or so until fragrant. Now add in your chopped and tinned tomatoes, and the herbs. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until it has bubbled down to a thick sauce. Take off the heat until you are ready to use.
- While the sauce is simmering, preheat the oven to 200 and lightly butter and flour a 12-hole cupcake tin (or a muffin tin if you’d like slightly deeper tarts)
- Take your pastry out of the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured surface to around 0.5cm thick. Cut rounds using a cutter slightly bigger than the cupcake holes.
- Press the pastry circles into the cupcake tin. Don’t worry if the pastry comes up over the sides, as it will shrink in the oven. Cover with a sheet of baking paper and bake blind for 15 minutes. Remove the baking paper, brush the pastry circles with a little beaten egg and trim the edges if you’d like. Bake for another 5 minutes.
- When you are ready to serve, spoon a little shakshuka sauce mixture into each pastry case and make a well in the centre. Crack an egg into the bowl and very, very carefully use a spoon to scoop out the whole yolk. Place the yolk in the well at the centre of the sauce and drizzle over a little olive oil. Repeat until all the pastry cases are full.
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or a little less if you’d like your yolk to still be runny.