The greatest sin you can commit at any dinner party, as far as I’m concerned, is to not have enough food. ALWAYS, ALWAYS make too much. There are two reasons for this: 1. No one ever leaves a dinner party saying, “My oh my, there were far too many delicious things to eat!” and 2. Whatever doesn’t get eaten, you can use the next day.
And sometimes — not always, but sometimes — the thing that you make the next day is even better than the thing you made for the dinner party. Case in point: this tomato salad shakshuka which, hyperbole police alert, may be the single best thing that I’ve cooked this year.
First: the tomato salad. I bought a bunch of heirlooms at Cookbook and just sitting there in a bowl on my kitchen table, they looked like a finished dish:
Actually, while I was at Cookbook, I ran into Ben Mims who pointed out the Nardello peppers (which I’d never seen before)…
He described them as having all of the flavor of a spicy pepper, without all the heat.
When I got home, I decided to quick pickle them: I just sliced them into rings, poured a cup of apple cider vinegar into a pot, added 1/4 cup sugar, a big pinch of salt, a bunch of peppercorns and brought everything to a boil. Then I added the sliced peppers (seeds and all)…
…let it boil for a minute, then turned off the heat, and just let them sit.
As for the tomato salad, it couldn’t have been easier: I just sliced the tomatoes into wedges, chunks, slices, and added them to a big bowl. I glugged in olive oil, Katz’s red wine vinegar, a big pinch of Maldon sea salt, lots of pepper, and tossed them all around.
I lifted them out on to a platter, then to the leftover dressing in the bowl, I added a sliced shallot, swished it around, then layered it on top of the tomatoes. Finally, I did the same with some arugula. Behold my tomato salad:
It was a big hit at the dinner party and I made so much, that I had about 1/4 of that leftover the next morning.
(I just put it in a plastic container and kept in the fridge overnight.)
The next morning, I took it back out, along with some bacon, eggs, sungolds, the pickled Nardello pepper rings, and parsley.
Here’s how I made the shakhuka… it was so easy. I took two pieces of the bacon, used scissors to cut into lardons, and added them to a non-stick skillet with a glug of olive oil.
I cranked up the heat and when the bacon had rendered a bunch of fat and gotten pretty crispy, I poured off half the fat and then added the leftover tomato salad directly to the pan, along with some sungolds and a pinch of salt.
I put a lid on it, let the liquid come out, and after three or four minutes, I took the lid off and used a wooden spoon to smash the tomatoes a bit.
When a lot of the liquid evaporated, but before the tomatoes completely broke down into a sludge, I cracked three eggs directly into the pan, sprinkled them with salt and pepper, and covered the pan, lowering the heat to medium.
I let that go, checking every 30 seconds or so, until the whites were set but the yolks were still runny.
I used a spatula to lift that into a serving bowl, drizzled everything with Italian olive oil, then topped with the pickled Nardello peppers and lots of chopped parsley. I sliced a piece of sesame sourdough to use to sop up all of the sauce. Check out this breakfast: