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James’ Shakshuka

James May

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In season now

Serves: 4

Prep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 30 mins


1 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, peeled and diced

1 red (bell) pepper, deseeded and diced

2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp chilli powder (or more if feeling cocky)

2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

1 x 400g can of whole peeled tomatoes

4 big eggs

A small handful of coriander leaves, chopped

Salt ’n’ pepper

Veg Portions / Serving: 1


Recipe from James May’s Oh Cook!: 60 easy recipes that any idiot can make, published by Pavilion Books. Photography by Martin Poole.

This is especially popular in Israel, although everybody in the Middle East claims it as their own. It is in essence a vegetarian spicy tomato pizza without the base and with some eggs thrown in. ‘Shakshuka’, by the way, means ‘all mixed up’. That’s a clue. It makes a great sharing dish as it’s quite tricky to remove from the pan in a meaningful way.


In a deep frying pan, heat the oil and sweat the onion and pepper for around 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Add the spices and garlic and cook for a couple more minutes.

Now add the tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Squash them down in the pan and mix them well with the other bits. Simmer gently for 15 minutes.

Now, with a large spoon, make four hollows at the points of the compass in the mixture.

Crack an egg into each one. Cover the pan (ideally with the lid) and cook for 5–8 minutes, depending on how runny you want the eggs. They are poaching in the juice, and lid-on, lid-off management is key to cooking the bottoms and tops of the eggs equally.

Finish with a scattering of chopped coriander leaves. Serve with toast fingers for dipping, or flatbread. Eat your shakshuka straight out of the pan.

Engaging Kids

Engaging Kids

Kids who engage regularly with veg through veg-themed activities, such as arts and crafts, sensory experiences, growing and cooking are shown to be more likely to eat the veg they engage with. Encouraging kids to engage and play with veg is the handy first step to them developing a good relationship with veg and life-long healthy eating.

Kids in the kitchen

Kids in the kitchen

This is a great one for teaching kids to crack eggs. Get them to do them one by one into a ramekin or small bowl, showing them how, and lifting out any bits of eggshell using the bigger piece of shell. They could then help you pour it into the holes carefully (the pan will be hot!). Have them chop the coriander roughly with scissors if they are good with them, and let them scatter it over the dish at the end.



While getting kids to interact with veggies for real and using their senses to explore them is best, encouraging hands off activities like arts & crafts, puzzles & games or at-home science experiments can be a great start, particularly for those who are fussier eaters or struggle with anything too sensory. Use these veg-themed activities as a stepping stone to interacting with the veg themselves. We have loads of crafty downloads here, puzzles here, and quirky science with veg here.



Once you feel your child is ready to engage a little more, you can show them how to explore the veg you have on hand with their senses, coming up with playful silly descriptions of how a veg smells, feels, looks, sounds and perhaps even tastes. Find ideas, videos and some simple sensory education session ideas to get you started here.



The moments before food is offered can be a perfect opportunity for engagement that can help make it more likely a child will eat it! Giving children a sense of ownership in the meal can make a big difference to their feelings going into it and the pride they take in it. You know your child best, but if you aren’t sure where to start, we have some fun and simple ideas for easy roles you can give them in the serving process over here.

James May

James May. That bloke off the telly. This is James's first foray into cooking. His Oh Cook! series on Amazon Prime and the cookbook are out now.

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