Focaccia is like a mattress you can eat: Whether
you your ingredients are saucy, spicy, salty, dry, seedy, or sensitive, they can get comfy in a bed. Made of dough.
Take shakshuka—a temperamental, though impressive, morning person.
To make the classic Tunisian dish, tomatoes, peppers, onions, and spice (and maybe more veg, like potatoes or eggplant or chard) simmer on the stove in a wide skillet. Then, the cook makes little dips in the warm sauce and gently cajoles raw eggs into the divots. The mixture simmers a little while longer so that the eggs cook.
Then, the cook-cum-surgeon must perform the Operation-like task of scooping an egg, surrounded by sauce, into a serving vessel without breaking the egg that may or may not be correctly cooked. And then, and only then, will the cook be able to sop up this wholesome, saucy dish with crusty bread.
So allow focaccia to help shakshuka—and, subsequently, us—relax a little. More aptly, let Breads Bakery, who came up with "shakshuka focaccia," help. But while Breads uses balls of focaccia dough to make wells for individual eggs (pictured below), I was hoping for something a bit more laid-back.
Let focaccia spread out like a bed and it’ll coddle your eggs on pillows of spicy sauce, or curry, or sautéed spinach or…! (It can even deal with a little too much time in the oven; see below, right: sunburnt but still beautiful.)
Better yet: Make the focaccia dough and the sauce up to two days before you make the Shakshuka Focaccia, spread the dough out on the baking sheet the night before, and you’ll set yourself up for a thrifty, splashy, easy-going brunch before 3 PM (or a weeknight dinner that’s not delivery pizza before 11).
The focaccia with sauce gets 15 minutes in the oven, until the dough just starts to bake up and brown, then the eggs get nestled into their already-sturdy pockets of bread with the plushy sauce cushions. The tray goes back in the oven for a matter of minutes, until the eggs are cooked. It comes out one big, make-ahead meal for a crowd—like it just woke up like that.
- 1 recipe Saltie's Focaccia dough, not cooked: https://food52.com/recipes/28786-saltie-s-focaccia
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
- 1 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
- 1 large jalapeño chile, cored, seeded, and chopped
- 7 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground caraway
- 8 large eggs