A lot of attention is paid to the Easter lunch. Lamb, of course, preferably studded with fat slivers of garlic and needles of fragrant rosemary and roasted until meltingly tender over a bed of sliced potatoes that soak up all the juices. Maybe beef, at a push, or at the very least some kind of roast. A light, zesty pudding, perhaps, to fill you with the joys of spring, or maybe just a delicate wedge of simnel cake to keep everything truly traditional. Even if you don’t celebrate Easter for religious reasons and aren’t anticipating the hedonistic joys of abandoning your Lenten resolutions, it’s still a great excuse to get the family together over a giant hunk of burnished meat.
But in the spirit of offering something a bit different, I’m focusing here on Easter brunch. Not a tradition, but a nice inclusion in the day nonetheless. After all, if you’re anything like me, cooking a roast for the family always takes far longer than anticipated, and you are unlikely to sit down to tuck in any time before 4pm. It makes sense to serve up a hearty brunch mid-morning to keep hungry stomachs sated until the afternoon feast.
This is my take on a classic Middle Eastern dish, shakshuka. It features a rich, thick, tangy sweet tomato sauce full of soft onions and peppers, spiced with harissa (a Moroccan chilli paste) and paprika, and freshened up with oh-so-healthy kale. Make little wells in the sauce with a spoon, and crack in some eggs – this is Easter, after all, so why not preface the inevitable chocolate eggs with a slightly more nutritious variety? They bake in the heat of the sauce, until the whole lot is begging to be scooped up with some crusty bread and devoured.
This would also make an excellent vegetarian main course for Easter lunch. It’s easy to cook, but special enough to elicit admiration at the table. It’s rich and spicy, sweet and satisfying, and a delightfully bolstering combination of flavours for both brunch and lunch. Happy Easter!
Finely slice the onion and dice the peppers into 1cm pieces. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan and sauté the onion and peppers for around five minutes over a high heat until softened. Finely chop the chilli. Add the harissa, tomato puree, garlic, chilli and paprika, then cook for another five minutes or so until everything is soft.
Add the kale and cook for another minute, then add the tomatoes, salt, and a generous grinding of pepper. Simmer for around 10 minutes until you have a thick sauce.
Make wells in the sauce with a spoon and crack in the eggs. Simmer for another 8-10 minutes or until the eggs are mostly set (the white and yolk on top will still look a bit runny, but this is fine as the underside will be cooked).
Scatter with the coriander and the lime and paprika salt, if using, then leave to rest for a couple of minutes before serving with crusty bread.