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Back in 2017 I shared my recipe for shakshuka, and since my son Max was born in March we’ve made it quite a few times. I make big batches and freeze them so we still have easy home-cooked meals on busy nights. I was staring at a stack of containers in the freezer and had the idea of combining two of my favorite foods. So here is shakshuka pizza, or shakshuzza.
I love to make pizza dough because it’s relaxing (I’m an advocate of bread therapy), and I’m sure it will be something fun to do with our son when he gets older. In a pinch pre-made dough works almost as well if you are pressed for time; most grocery stores have it, or ask at your local pizzeria. Or try my quick method described in the variations.
This recipe uses three of my favorite blends, Izak, Shabazi (optional but recommended), and Sheba. It can be made meat-free like my shakshuka, but I personally love it with some crumbled lamb merguez.
makes 2 thin-crust 12″ pies
1 cup warm water (around 115°F)
1/2-1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
about 3 cups (450g) all-purpose flour (depending on humidity and age of flour)
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, 1/4″ dice or thin strips depending on how chunky you like it
3 sweet peppers (your choice, I like a mix), 1/4″ dice or thin strips
2 big cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 28 oz can of tomatoes with juice, roughly crushed by hand
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp shio koji
2 tsp preserved lemon rind, finely minced
1 tsp raw sugar (or to taste, you want the sauce lightly sweet)
1 cup of fried lamb merguez sausage (1/2″ crumbles) (substitute cooked eggplant or zucchini chunks seasoned with Tangier N.23 for a vegetarian version)
optional: 1/2 cup crumbled feta
optional: oil cured labneh balls
optional: chopped calabrian chiles
Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Stir with a wooden spoon until a loose dough forms. If a dough does not form, add a bit more water, if the dough is very wet and sticky, add a bit more flour. Once the dough can no longer be mixed easily, pull it out with your hands and knead on a lightly floured cutting board until you form an elastic ball of slightly sticky dough (about 12 minutes of kneading).
Divide the dough in two and form each half into a ball. Add a bit of olive oil to the surface of each and cover them with a kitchen towel. Allow to rise for about an hour in a warm place.
In a heavy skillet warm the olive oil over medium heat. When fragrant add the onions and cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the peppers and cook for 5-7 minutes more or until everything is softened and lightly browned. Add garlic and spices and cook for 2-3 minutes more, stirring more frequently. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, shio koji, and preserved lemon and drop the heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for another 20-25 minutes or until thick. Taste and adjust with sugar/salt as necessary.
note: if starting from leftover shakshuka sauce, heat on low for 10 minutes to thicken it and adjust sweetness with raw sugar (you want it to be lightly sweet)
Preheat the oven to 525°F. For best results place a thick sheet of steel towards the top third of the oven (alternatively you can use a pizza stone or baking sheet, but the crust will not get as crisp).
Roll one of your dough balls out on a floured surface until you get a 12″ rough circle. Place on a sheet of parchment paper on a flat sheet pan or pizza peel, and trim the paper so it’s only a bit bigger than the dough. Top the dough with half of the sauce, merguez, and feta, and make two wells in the sauce for the eggs. Crack each egg into its own small bowl, discarding any bits of shell. Carefully transfer the dough and parchment to your steel/stone. After about 3 minutes of baking, carefully rotate the pie 180°, place an egg in each divot, and then cook until the crust is crisp and eggs are barely set (about 3-4 minutes more). Top with a dusting of Shabazi (and/or fresh cilantro leaves), slice, and serve. It’s a bit messy, and totally delicious.
Note that ovens vary and therefore times are approximate. Experiment with yours until you achieve perfection.
* I've also been experimenting with quick doughs, for example using sour cream and butter to make biscuits. Here's a variant I came up with that works really well as a simple pizza dough in a pinch, and requires no yeast and makes enough for one crust:
1 1/3 cup self-rising flour
1 cup full-fat greek yogurt, or labneh, or sour cream
Combine the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until a smooth dough forms. Since humidity varies you may need to add a bit more flour if the dough is sticky, or more yogurt if it is too dry. If you don't have self-rising flour combine regular flour with 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
• (pictured) Shabazi and Izak garlic knots! Roll pizza dough into skinny 8″ long cylinders, coat liberally in a mix of Izak and Shabazi (I prefer 3:1, the same ratio as what I like to sprinkle on cheese pizza), fresh chopped garlic, and olive oil. Tie in a knot and bake until crispy (about 8 minutes at 525°F).
• Calzones! Make a mixture of differently textured cheeses (ricotta, feta, mozzarella is a good place to start). Mix with cooked merguez and fold your calzone, then make a couple slits in the top of the dough. Bake at 450° until well-puffed and golden. Break and stir two eggs into 2 cups of shakshuka sauce and heat on low until creamy but not scrambled. Use for dipping the slices of calzone.
• Dessert Pizza. Perfect if you’re having dinner for two or three and want to make one regular pizza and one dessert from a batch of dough. Labneh, goat cheese, and ricotta are great. Try fresh figs, chopped dates, and/or thinly sliced apples as toppings. When the pie is almost done cooking finish with nuts, spices, and syrups (some things to try: chopped pistachios, sesame, pomegranate molasses, Apollonia, Noga, Aleppo pepper).
• To make a basic pizza sauce, mix together and heat a 28oz. can of tomatoes (crush them by hand), a 6oz. can of tomato paste, 2 tsp sugar, 4 tsp Riviera Herbs, 1 clove garlic (optional) minced, and salt to taste. Cook for about 20 minutes then stir in a bit of olive oil. Taste and adjust seasoning. I like to add some peperoncini for heat.
Food image and recipe © Christian Leue
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