~ Authors Notes ~
Spring is a uniquely exciting time of the year. Ask any chef, farmer, outdoor enthusiast or avid gardener. It signals the beginning of the growing season and the end of the cold, dreary days of winter. It is marked by warmer days, the vibrant green of the plant kingdom being reborn and above all…hope. The hope for fields full of luscious vegetables, the hope for abundant harvests and most importantly, the hope for many meals shared with family and friends.
For me, this recipe is an expression of everything that I love about Spring and it brings together a few of my absolute favorite Spring items…Swiss Chard, Green Garlic and Pullet Eggs. Pullet eggs are the first eggs laid by young hens in the Spring. Since they are smaller, they are often passed over for the larger eggs we are accustomed to. However, what they lack in size they make up for with a rich, savory flavor. You could even say that the pullet egg is the perfect embodiment of the excitement and hope of Spring.
With the help of a few pantry items (maybe even some that you processed yourself from last year’s harvest), you can bring together this recipe for Shakshuka rather quickly so that you are able to spend more time outside enjoying the beauty of spring. Served with some warm pita and a bowl of tangy yogurt, Shakshuka is an elegantly, satisfying meal meant to be shared with friends and family. Remember…eat more Pullet Eggs!
Note: Check out the Bitter Lemon Harissa from Keepwell Vinegar. It is a savory flavor bomb and is the perfect secret weapon to have stashed in your fridge.
Swiss Chard & Green Garlic Shakshuka with Pullet Eggs
½ each Onion
2- 3 each Green garlic stalks
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
½ teaspoon Cumin, ground
¾ t. Smoked Parika
¼ t. Cayenne
½ t. Kosher Salt
1 T Harissa paste
25 ounces Tomato Puree
1 can (15 oz) Chickpeas, rinsed
1 cup Water
1 bunch Swiss Chard
6 each Pullet Eggs
Fresh mint, cilantro or spring onions
Toasted sesame seeds
Extra virgin olive oil
Flakey sea salt
- Preheat your oven to 350°F.
- Prepare your vegetables. Peel and dice your onion. Thinly slice your green garlic, using most of the tender stalk. Remove the Chard from the stem. Reserve stems for another use. Cut Chard leaves into bite size pieces.
- In a medium sized pot, warm your olive oil. Add to it your onion, green garlic and salt. Sweat over a medium heat until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add your ground spices to the pot and toast along with the onion/garlic mixture for 2 minutes until aromatic. Add harissa paste and toast for another minute or 2.
- Add your tomato puree and water. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, add your rinsed chickpeas and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
- Taste your sauce and season with salt, if needed. Add your Swiss Chard leaves and cook until barely wilted, about 3 minutes.
- Dump the contents of the pot into a 9”x13” baking dish and spread sauce into an even layer. Make 6 evenly spaced out indentations in the sauce, creating little “nests” for your pullet eggs. One by one, carefully crack each egg into the indentations.
- Carefully place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the egg whites are fully cooked but your yolks are still runny. If using more traditional, large eggs, add another 5 minutes of cook time.
- Remove from the oven. Season eggs with flakey salt and aleppo. Give the Shakshuka a good drizzle of olive oil, shower with sesame seeds and cover with a liberal dose of fresh, torn herbs.
- Serve immediately. Enjoy!
Michael Joyce is a Philly-based chef and local food advocate. Spending his career in kitchens devoted to seasonality and sustainability such as Blue Hill, Bolete Restaurant and most recently Barbuzzo. He believes that cooking through the seasons and as close to the source as possible, is not only satisfying and inspiring, but critical to the health of our local communities.