How to cook eggs for dinner: shakshuka, carbonara and more

Goat Cheese Avocado Shakshuka. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
Goat Cheese Avocado Shakshuka. Photo by Michelle Stark, Times food editor.
Published June 12 2018

Eggs are an underutilized dinner ingredient.

Aside from fried rice and a breakfast-for-dinner situation, I rarely use eggs in my cooking past the hour of 4 p.m. It makes no sense. Eggs are a great source of protein, able to be cooked in myriad ways, and can tie lots of dishes together.

In shakshuka, a homey dish popular in Middle Eastern cuisine, eggs are actually the star. Well, eggs and the tomato-y sauce in which they are poached. Itís a dish that is magical in its simplicity, warm and comforting straight from the oven, and able to serve as the base for a flurry of fresh toppings.

Iíve eaten shakshuka before, but had never made it in my own kitchen. But my husbandís recent journey into the ketogenic diet has forced me to come up with some creatively carb-free dishes. (The ketogenic diet is very low-carb, limiting all manner of breads and rices and starches and even some fruits and vegetables.)

This is an ideal option for keto dieters, but the best part is it doesnít feel like diet food. And for those who are not avoiding carbs, I would heartily recommend serving this dish with a hunk of crusty bread for dipping.

You have an opportunity to show some flair with your toppings. I opted for goat cheese and avocado for both their flavors and creaminess, plus some fresh herbs and plenty of salt and pepper.

Other ideas? Any sort of cheese works splendidly, as would a protein like crispy bacon. Meatballs are a natural pairing with the tomato sauce-heavy dish.

But itís the eggs that really seal the deal, the yolk oozing into the red sauce and creating a rich soup. Yes, they should be slightly runny when broken into, so be sure to err on the side of cooking less than cooking more. And eat the dish right away, because the hot skillet will keep cooking the eggs the longer they remain off your plate.

Once youíve mastered the shakshuka, try these other dinner-ready dishes that get the most out of the humble egg.

Spaghetti Carbonara

You may not realize, if youíve never cooked this at home, that what signifies a carbonara is the last-minute stirring in of raw egg. The hot pasta cooks the egg, resulting in an impossibly rich and very easy-to-make dish. Start by cooking 12 ounces spaghetti. In a bowl, mix together 2 large eggs and 2 large yolks with ? cup grated Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, cook 4 ounces bacon, sliced into small pieces, until the fat renders and it is starting to crisp. Drain pasta, reserve 1 cup pasta water and add pasta to skillet with bacon. Add mixture to a large bowl, then stir in egg-cheese mixture, adding reserved pasta water if needed for creaminess. Serve immediately.

Sausage Egg Bake

Like a big quiche without the crust, this meal comes together fast. Feel free to swap out the veggies for ones you like. Heat oven to 350 degrees and heat a skillet over medium heat. Add ľ pound sausage of your choice, chopped into Ĺ-inch pieces, and cook until browned. Add 1 large onion, diced, and 4 cloves garlic, minced, and cook for 7 minutes until soft. Add Ĺ cup diced tomatoes and 12 ounces frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and roughly chopped. Cook until warmed through, then pour mixture into a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. In a bowl, whisk 8 eggs with 1 cup milk, salt and pepper to taste, 3 ounces crumbled goat cheese and 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese. Pour into baking dish and bake for about 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center of bake comes out clean.

Goat Cheese and Avocado Shakshuka

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 small red onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt and pepper

Ĺ teaspoon cumin

ľ teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 cups crushed tomatoes

3 or 4 large eggs

2 ounces goat cheese

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to taste

1 whole avocado, diced

ľ cup parsley or cilantro, chopped

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Add olive oil to an oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Once oil is hot, add red onion and cook for a minute or two. Add garlic and season with salt and pepper. Stir, cooking for another 3 to 4 minutes until garlic and onion are soft. Add cumin and red pepper flakes and stir.

Pour in crushed tomatoes and stir. Bring the mixture to a simmer and let cook for a couple of minutes.

Use a spoon to create divots in the sauce (as best you can), and crack one egg at a time into each divot. Repeat with remaining eggs. I used 3, but up to 4 will likely fit in a large skillet.

Place skillet in oven and cook until egg whites are set, about 9 minutes.

Remove from oven then top with goat cheese, Parmesan cheese, avocado, parsley and more salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Serves 2 to 3.

Source: Michelle Stark, Tampa Bay Times