I have a few meals that I know I can pull out at a moment’s notice – they’re inexpensive, we usually have most of the ingredients on hand already, they reheat well for leftovers the next day, and they’re really quick. And while I’m always interested in trying new recipes, buying interesting ingredients, etc. – I’m also constantly looking for things to add to this “failsafe” list. Because who hasn’t been in that “oh crap what do I make for dinner” situation before?


Almost all of the foods in this category are vegetarian, and many of them are bean- and/or egg-based. One of our favorites is Shakshuka, an Israeli dish that is basically poached eggs in a spicy tomato sauce. It’s not unlike Eggs in Purgatory or Huevos Rancheros. In fact, it’s really just a basic tomato sauce like you’d use for pasta, but with onions, cumin, and paprika.


I first found this on Smitten Kitchen and while I have made it Deb’s way (so has Jenni, apparently!), I usually end up scrapping the fresh chilies for some crushed red pepper flakes, which I always have on hand and don’t require an extra trip to the store. I strongly recommend using good paprika, too – some Spanish pimenton is really nice here. But seriously, anything will work.

You’ll also need some feta. Feta cheese can be really expensive if you buy it in the $3.99 pre-crumbled 4 ounce packages by the rotisserie chicken in the grocery store deli. I buy Bulgarian sheep’s milk feta at the awesome Asian grocery store (yes, really), where it’s about $6 for more than a pound of delicious, briny cheese.



serves 4


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter (or use all olive oil)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or 1 jalapeno chile, seeded and minced fine
  • 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • lots of freshly toasted bread, for serving


In your largest skillet, heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat and add the onion and a big pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is nicely browned, about 10 minutes (turn the heat to medium if it looks like it’s going to burn). Add the garlic, cumin, paprika, and chile and cook about 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add 1/2 cup of water and the tomatoes and bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-low, cover, and cook about 10 minutes, or until everything is nicely saucy.

Give the whole thing a good stir, then crack 8 eggs into the pan (we usually do 4 eggs for two servings, then after dinner cook 4 more eggs in the leftover sauce for tomorrow’s lunch). Sprinkle with the feta and parsley, cover, and cook over medium-low heat for about 3-4 minutes, or until the eggs are as done as you like. Taste for salt (it might need some more) and serve with toast.


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