Winter Warmers: Starting Your Day Right!

If you’ve been following me for a while now, it wouldn’t be hard to guess I love all things Mediterranean! Mediterranean food, Mediterranean culture, Mediterranean coastlines…what’s not to love I say!

Growing up in a home where all things were Greek, I remember watching my dad, every morning without fail, tossing a couple of knobs of butter in the well used frypan, letting it get to the sizzling stage before frying a couple of eggs and toasting a couple of slices of fresh bread!

It was the time when everyone was up in arms about cholesterol and eggs was supposedly a contributor to this disease! My father is 90 years old this year and it doesn’t look like the eggs or the butter did him any harm! 

I was fascinated to read recently that eggs are back in fashion. An egg a day is starting your day right and as for cholesterol, giving up the greasy takeaways is probably a good start!

I love a fried egg paired with crumbled Greek feta on top and a little tomato salsa on the side. Served with fresh crusty bread, I know I am in for a fabulously productive and energetic day!

But I also love a steaming hot bowl of homemade Lentil & Basil soup or Moroccan Lamb & Chickpea soup after a long walk and quick swim in the ocean baths in the middle of winter.

So I decided why not mix it up a little and make a kind of Shakshuka but adding chickpeas to the mix and creating myself a very hearty Mediterranean style breakfast.

Chickpeas in my passata sauce with a handful of fragrant fresh basil leaves, eggs cushioned in the mix with feta cheese melting through with olives adding that extra bit of bite to the dish – now this is my kind of dish!

I used homemade passata, we had a bumper of a season with our tomatoes and with 80kg you make passata and you make chutney! I am slowly making my way through the hundreds of containers!

Also, our basil plants were fabulous this year and we made oodles of pesto and froze it. But wait there’s more….I bought a large packet of dried chickpeas (cans are okay but wanted to avoid that added salt), cooked up a big batch and froze it in snap-lock bags. So when it came to cooking this dish, everything was on hand, including the organic eggs our chookies so graciously provide us with on a daily basis!

But for those of you that don’t have the time or desire to do all that prepping, there is good quality passata available in the supermarkets, as well as pesto, chutney and canned chickpeas.

This dish is full of flavour and it has that wonderful comforting feeling you get when you climb into bed, snuggle under your covers and listen to the rain pitter patter on the tin roof.

Enjoy!

SHAKSHUKA WITH FETA & OLIVES

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small red onion, diced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 cup cooked chickpeas

1 cup tomato passata

1 cup diced red capsicum

1 tablespoon tomato chutney

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon basil pesto

½ cup chicken stock

1 tablespoon dried herbs

salt & pepper, to taste

4 eggs

½ cup crumbed feta

½ cup Greek Kalamata olives

½ cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

METHOD

1. In a large frypan, heat oil over medium heat and add onion, garlic and cumin sauté until transparent.

2. Add chickpeas, passata, capsicum, chutney, tomato paste, pesto, stock, dried herbs and season. Bring to a gentle simmer before turning heat to low and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until sauce has thickened.

3. Make four openings in the sauce using your stirring spoon. Gently crack eggs into each opening. Simmer gently for 8-10 minutes or until the whites are set but eggs still runny. Place a lid on top and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.

4. Remove from heat, crumble feta on top, scatter olives all over and sprinkle some basil leaves on top. Serve with your favourite bread.