Not all tinned tomatoes are created equal. This is something that took me a while to discover. As a student tinned tomatoes were a staple of my food shop due to their sheer versatility. Once you can make a simple tomato sauce the world is your oyster. Serve it with pasta, make it into chilli or bolognaise or combine both into a lasagne. It's one of the building blocks of basic cooking skills. However as a student with limited budget I always opted for the cheapest supermarket own brand or basics version. Big mistake. Buying cheap tinned tomatoes is a false economy. It's definitely worth spending a wee bit more for a quality brand and I'm delighted to be teaming up as an ambassador with with premium Italian tomato brand Cirio.
Founded in Italy 1856, Cirio make a wonderful range of tins, jars and cartons of tomato products. Although it is tempting to reach for the cheapest tinned tomatoes in the supermarket you can tell the Cirio difference as soon as you pick up the can. With cheaper brands there is a lot of sloshing about as there will be a lot of juice and not a lot of tomato. When you open the tin the colour comparison is stark, their tomatoes are actually bright deep red, the chopped product is thick and whole tomato flesh firm. But the real difference comes in taste and intensity of flavour. Their products are simply richer, sweeter, less acidic and bursting with tomatoeyness. Give Cirio a try and you'll be converted.
The recipe I'm sharing today is for Shakshuka which is essentially eggs baked in a tomato based sauce. It works well as a Vegetarian dish but meat eaters could add spicy chorizo for an extra kick of flavour. Shakshuka has its origins in North Africa and is a simple rustic one pot dish in which the quality of the tomatoes can really shine through. The name means to mix up or shake up and in my recipe I've mixed the traditional tomatoes and eggs with seasonal Jersey Royal potatoes. It makes a perfect brunch or supper dish and you can spice it up or down according to you own taste. I'm a bit of a woose so go heavy on the smoked paprika and light on the chilli. Shakshuka is frugal food that's full of flavour, but only if you splash out a wee bit on your key ingredient.
Shakshuka - Spicy Tomato Baked Eggs
400g Jersey Royal New Potatoes
Splash of Olive Oil
1 Shallot, finely sliced
1 Red Pepper, diced
2 Cloves Garlic, crushed
200g Carton Cirio Passata
400g Tin Cirio Chopped Tomatoes
1 Tbsp Chopped Fresh Basil
1 Tbsp Chopped Parsley
2 tsp Smoked Paprika
Chilli Flakes/Chopped Fresh Red Chilli - to taste
Salt & Pepper
4 Free Range Eggs
Preheat your oven to 180c
Boil the potatoes for approximately 15 minutes or until tender. Drain well and thickly slice.
Whist the potatoes are cooking add a splash of rapeseed to to a frying pan - ideally an oven proof one.
Fry the onion, garlic and peppers until softened.
Mix in the Cirio Passata and the Cirio Chopped Tomatoes
Stir through the spinach and allow it to wilt down before adding the precooked sliced potatoes.
Season with the basil, parsley, smoked paprika, chilli and freshly ground salt and black pepper.
Make 4 shallow hollows in the mixture and crack and egg into each.
If you're not using an oven proof frying pan, transfer the tomato mix to an ovenproof dish before you add the eggs
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the eggs are cooked to your liking.
Sprinkle the eggs with some extra smoked paprika and ground black pepper and serve with a green salad and crusty bread for dipping.
For further Cirio Tomato inspiration take a look at Bintu's Joloff Spaghetti and Helen's Slow Cooked Beef Ragu and Fagioli all’uccelletto.