Brunch doesn’t have a time. It’s an occasion all on its own. Serving as a convivial bridge between breakfast and lunch, this indiscriminate conjugate paves the way for drawn out conversations over pink Paloma’s and a table laden with delicious possibilities. Sunday is Mother’s Day, the perfect time for a lazy alfresco brunch in the garden. If you’re a regular visitor to the blog, you’ll know, we’re just slightly obsessive about Middle Eastern food here, which explains why this glorious green shakshuka is on my Mother’s Day wish list.
The recipe is from Melissa Delport’s latest cookbook, Heal – Begin with Food. It’s a kaleidoscopically colourful celebration of vegetarian food that feeds both body and soul with recipes that will make anyone fall in love with fresh, whole-foods. I love that there’s nothing faddish about the recipes, nor is it prescriptive of do’s and don’ts. I would happily eat my way through all nine chapters, from Smoothies and Elixirs to the last creamy scoopful of Nice Cream Dessert. You cannot but be inspired by both the vibrantly beautiful recipes and gorgeous photography. If you’re looking to include more plant-based meals in your busy lifestyle, you’re going to love this book. It’s available from all good bookstores and online.
Back to the brunch story. I like to offer several options to keep everyone happy, both savoury and sweet. Eggs are essential in one form or another. Benedict, poached, coddled or shakshuka-d. I’m going with the latter because it heads up North and I love it there. If you’re going with a classic Benny and gleaming buttery hollandaise, then toasted English muffins are requisite. A decent shakshuka demands either flatbread or warm pitas as a carrier or dipper, if you will. There are no rules when it comes to shakshuka, really. Much like a frittata, it amicably accepts most things you throw at it, so long as the flavour is bold and the eggs, fresh. For Melissa’s green shakshuka, spinach is the hero ingredient, supported by the current ‘it’ pantry staple, chickpeas. I love everything about this dish, from the earthy spices to the lemony adornment and vibrantly fresh herbs. I think you’re going to love it too!
- 10ml (2 teaspoons) coconut oil
- 1 large leek, rinsed and sliced into coins
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 green chilli, finely sliced or 1/4 teaspoon dried red chilli flakes
- 5ml (1 teaspoon) dried oregano
- 5ml (1 teaspoon) ground cumin
- 5ml (1 teaspoon) ground coriander
- 1 bunch tuscan kale, centre rib removed and roughly chopped
- 1 bunch Swiss Chard, centre rib removed and roughly chopped (alternately, use baby spinach)
- 400g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 100g peas (fresh or frozen)
- 4 eggs
- 100g ricotta cheese
- a handful of dill and mint, finely chopped
- zest of 1 lemon, plus juice of half
- olive oil, for finishing
- salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Heat the coconut oil in a medium-sized pan. Add the leek and cook over a medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and chilli and cook for another minute or so. Add the oregano, cumin and coriander and cook over a gentle heat for about 5 minutes.
Scrape in the kale and spinach and allow to wilt down, about 3-4 minutes. Tip in the chickpeas and peas and heat through. Season the vegetables with salt and black pepper.
Using the back of a spoon, create four hollows for the eggs. Gently place each egg in the dips and cook for about 6-8 minutes. Dollop spoonfuls of ricotta, or yoghurt between the eggs.
Finish with freshly chopped herbs and lemon zest. Spritz over the lemon juice and serve immediately.
If you need a super easy flatbread recipe, this is the one to make:
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