Meatball Shakshuka

Shakshuka is a dish that goes back to the Ottoman Empire and North Africa in the mid 16th century. Traditionally involving a heavily spiced tomato sauce with eggs simmered until just set, this version is meatier and features tender meatballs swimming in the same sauce. Add some cheese and fresh herbs at the end and lots of slices of baguette and you've got a hearty meal for a cold winter day that's asking for some calm and pampering.

I like making my own meatballs and tend to make giant batches and freeze most of them for quick use later. However, you can pick some up from the store and just prepare them as instructed to have them cooked and ready to add to the sauce. Some might prefer to add them to the sauce raw and simmer them until done, but I find they tend to fall apart that way and being able to spoon a few saucy meatballs onto your plate when it's time to dip bread is a hit with my family.

A big salad brimming with greens and crunchy vegetables is a perfect accompaniment to this dish. So is a bold red wine. Might I suggest a shiraz or the like? Either way, make sure you have lots of bread for dipping, because that's really the magic of this meal. It's perfect for filling that between the holidays pause. Enjoy!

Meatball Shakshuka

  • 1 batch meatball mix from this recipe or 9-12 premade meatballs
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 quart tomato sauce - choose your favorite variety
  • Chèvre, for serving
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for serving

If using the meatball mix, form into 9-12 similarly-sized balls and bake in a 350° F oven for 20 minutes. If using premade meatballs, follow the package instructions to fully cook them.

While the meatballs bake, prepare the sauce. In a large lidded saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the peppers and onions, stirring often until the onions are almost caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add the cumin, smoked paprika, and salt and stir until fragrant. Add the tomato sauce; stir well to combine. Add the meatballs to the sauce; cover the pan with a lid and simmer for 8-12 minutes or until everything is warm and bubbly.

Top the meatballs with chèvre and parsley. Serve with slices of baguette.

  • Yields: 4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 40 minutes