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How to Make a Fancy Breakfast From a Jar of Salsa

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Photo: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

I often root through my fridge looking for undiscovered, sophisticated meals to magically appear. I must have experienced this phenomenon at least once, as I have this hope daily. What I normally find instead are open jars of long-lost olives, dips, and salsas. I consider most of these fair-game accessories for eggs, but the salsa made me stop my push-aside-to-continue-searching-for-steak au poivre routine. I remembered this particular salsa was too peppery for me to enjoy with chips, but the undeniable hunger of 11 a.m. made me regard it as more than just an add-on. Salsa, I realized, is essentially the whole base ingredient list of Shakshuka—with a little help from the spice cabinet, you can have a restaurant-worthy dish in under 15 minutes.

What is Shakshuka?

As with most famously delicious foods, there’s some debate on where exactly Shakshuka originated—in North Africa or Yemen—but Shakshuka is now a popular menu item worldwide. You’ve probably seen it on a few brunch menus already; it’s made in a skillet with a combination of vegetables, spices, and a few whole eggs nestled securely inside. Although some might view this as a breakfast-only meal because of the eggs, it’s an excellent choice for lunch or dinner with a crusty piece of bread.

How to turn tomato salsa into Shakshuka

Even though the eggs are the Mona Lisa of the dish, the sauce is the Louvre—it houses the eggs, it’s the girth of the dish, and it’s made of a combination of vegetables that highlight and complement the eggs. The sauce in a Shakshuka will vary slightly depending on the chef, but the core remains the same: tomatoes, onions, and peppers. You may see where I’m going with this. Most basic, tomato-based salsas contain exactly these things with maybe the addition of vinegar and a small amount of xanthan gum to emulsify the ingredients. It just so happens that the salsa company has already chopped and cooked three of the four main ingredients, so get ready for the fastest Shakshuka of your life.

That being said, it is important to make sure it doesn’t taste like eggs and salsa from a jar. No, you deserve a fancy meal with nuance and complexity, so before you pour the salsa into a pan, lightly toast a small amount of crushed cumin seeds (you can use powdered, but the seeds are best) and paprika. You’ll warm up some chopped garlic in oil, too. This seems like a baby step but all three of these ingredients are flavor powerhouses that are typically found in Shakshuka, and they’ll also differentiate the flavor from jarred salsa. This only takes a couple minutes—the spices and garlic will become fragrant, but they should not take on any color or they risk burning.

Empty out a jar of tomato salsa directly into the pan of spices and oil, give it a stir to combine everything, and bring to a simmer. Add the eggs and cover for about five minutes. Remember that the veggies are all cooked, so once the sauce is hot, you only need to wait for the eggs to set.

The following recipe comes together in about 12 minutes from the moment you find a discarded jar of salsa in the fridge to scooping a serving onto your plate. Magical fridge meals really do exist.

Photo: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

Fancy Salsa Shakshuka

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds (or ¼ teaspoon of powder)
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 16 ounce jar of salsa (Hot, medium, or mild)
  • 4 eggs
  • Herbs for garnish

In a medium skillet over medium heat, add the oil, cumin, paprika, and garlic. Toast briefly until fragrant. Add the entire jar of salsa and bring to a simmer on medium low heat.

Photo: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

Make a little divot in the sauce with a spoon and crack an egg into the space. Do this for all four eggs.

Cover with a lid until the egg whites are set and the yolks reach desired doneness. This takes about seven minutes for completely hard yolks. Top with herbs and enjoy with your favorite hunk of bread.

  

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