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  • Writer's pictureFay Walsh

Harissa Shakshuka with Toasted Challah Bread

My take on one of NYC's favorite brunch dishes.

Ten years ago, I was first introduced to this dish by my cousin in Israel. This recipe is a nod to that moment, inspired by Ottolenghi's Shakshuka and Gotan NYC.

Not All Harissa is Made Equal

The amount of harissa paste will depend on your brand of Harissa. My favorite brand is from NY Shuk, because it's very mild and I can use it interchangeably with tomato paste in this recipe. If you are using a much spicer Harissa (homemade?) you might want to scale back the serving size in the recipe to just a couple of tablespoons and combine that with some tomato paste to mellow it out. People vary in their preferred spice level so I try to be conservative. You never want someone to say, "ooh that's really spicy!" after you serve them a dish because that's a nice way of saying it's too hot. You can always offer red pepper flakes at the table for some extra heat.

Why Challah and not Pita Bread?

I'm taking a cue from Jack's Wife Freda (a hot brunch spot in NYC) known for their famous green Shakshuka with toasted Challah. I've never made Challah before so I thought today's photoshoot could be the day and followed this very basic Challah recipe (I'll follow up soon with a dedicated post in Challah making).

Make it French

You can use brioche bread instead, just keep in mind there's lots of butter in the brioche whereas the Challah is kosher to eat at all meals. As long as the bread is fresh, it will be an amazing dipping vessel.

Where do I find Preserved Lemon?

Preserved lemon is a North African specialty item held in most grocery stores. If you can't find any, I suggest my favorite guys at NY Shuk, or you can create your own Moroccan preserved lemons.


Harissa Shakshuka with Toasted Challah Bread

by Mrs. Walsh (inspired by Ottolenghi)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced

  • 3 shallots (or one very large yellow onion), thinly sliced

  • 4-6 ounces mild Harissa paste or tomato paste, if you prefer

  • 6 medium jarred roasted bell peppers, thinly sliced

  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed or pureed tomatoes (5 cups very ripe tomatoes work well, too)

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tsp preserved lemon paste (Optional. *careful! will make you pucker)

  • 1 tsp sugar (optional)

  • 4-5 ounces good-quality feta cheese

  • 4-6 large eggs

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, and mint will do just fine)

  • Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

  • Toasted Challah bread for serving


  1. Heat oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. When the oil starts to shimmer, add the shallots, stirring continuously until they begin to carmelize (about 6 minutes). After five minutes, add in the sliced garlic.

  2. Stir in the harissa paste and cook until the paste turns a dark brick red color (you will know that it's ready because it will smell delicious). Add the canned tomatoes, salt, and roasted peppers, preserved lemon paste, and bring to a simmer. After five minutes, taste the sauce, if it's too bitter from the lemon add 1 teaspoon sugar to cut the acid). Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. If the sauce reduces too much, simply add a bit of water to keep the consistency similar to tomato sauce.

  3. When ready to serve stir in half of the fresh herbs. Nestle in your chunks of feta. Create little wells in the sauce and gently crack the desired number of eggs into the skillet. Use a fork to swirl the egg whites a little bit with the sauce, but don't break the yolks! Cover and cook until the eggs are just set (about 7 to 10 minutes). If undercooked eggs freak you out you can always cook them through. Garnish with remaining chopped herbs and sprinkle with red pepper flakes.

  4. Serve with very fresh toasted challah or French brioche.

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1 Comment

Sheila Grauer Fay
Sheila Grauer Fay
May 30, 2021

your father's favorite dish!

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