Vegetable Shakshuka with Pesto


Summer Vegetable Shakshuka! Poached eggs in a rich tomato and vegetable sauce with pesto. Serve for brunch or light dinner.

Photography Credit: Sheryl Julian

Have you ever tried shakshuka? It’s a North African specialty similar to the Italian dish Eggs in Purgatory (Uova in Purgatorio). Shakshuka is basically eggs poached in a quick, spiced-up, homemade tomato sauce.

In late-summer, shakshuka is also a great way to incorporate some more garden bounty into your meal.

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ShakshukaI use two kinds of tomatoes in my shakshuka: plum tomatoes, because their flesh is so meaty, and a beefsteak tomato for its flavor and juiciness. Whir them in a blender or food processor and then simmer into a sauce with sautéed scallions and garlic.

At this point, you can add what you have available: spinach leaves, coarsely chopped if they’re large; fennel, shaved into strips; or something golden, like pattypan squash, summer squash, or golden zucchini, very thinly sliced. The extra vegetables make the tomato sauce substantial and chunky.

When it’s time to poach the eggs in the sauce, use the back of a spoon to create four shallow indents for the eggs to sink into. They’re finished when the whites are just set, but the yolks are still runny. Garnish with dabs of pesto and fresh basil leaves.

Vegetable Shakshuka with Pesto Recipe

  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings


  • 4 plum tomatoes, cored and cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 medium beefsteak tomato, cored and cut into 8 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bunch scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 cup water, or more if needed
  • 1 yellow pattypan squash, 1 medium summer squash, or 1/2 golden zucchini
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup pesto, homemade or store-bought
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves, for garnish (optional)
  • Baguette or thick slices of bread, to serve



1 Blend the tomatoes: Blend the plum and beefsteak tomatoes in a blender or food processor until they are saucy (you should have about 3 cups).

2 Cook the tomato sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the scallions and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add garlic, salt, black pepper, red pepper, cumin, and paprika. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute more.

Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until they stop sizzling. Add 1/4 cup of water. Lower the heat and simmer the sauce for 5 minutes. If the mixture seems dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.


3 Prepare the squash or pattypan: Trim top and bottom from the squash and cut into quarters. If using a yellow squash or zucchini, remove the column of seeds from the center (the pattypan has fewer seeds, so it’s OK to leave them in). Very thinly slice the vegetables.

4 Add the squash to the tomato sauce. Stir well and continue cooking for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Add more water, if needed.


5 Cook the eggs: BUse the back of a spoon to make 4 indentations in the tomato mixture. Break one of the eggs into a measuring cup and then carefully pour it into an indentation, being careful not to break the yolk. Repeat with the remaining eggs. Cover the pan and cook over medium heat for 8 minutes or until the whites are set (the yolks will still be runny).


6 Serve: Garnish the dish with dabs of pesto and fresh basil leaves. Serve straight from the pan to individual dishes.

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Check out these other great shakshuka recipes!

Smoky White Bean Shakshuka from BudgetBytes

Shakshuka Pizza from My Name is Yeh

Individual Shakshuka with Hominy and Feta from Spoon Fork Bacon

Caprese Shakshuka Breakfast Casserole from What Jew Wanna Eat

Harissa Eggs in Purgatory from Skinny Taste


Sheryl Julian

Sheryl Julian is an award-winning writer, editor, and food stylist. She is the former food editor of The Boston Globe, co-author of The Way We Cook, and editor of The New Boston Globe Cookbook. Her food sections won Best Newspaper Food Coverage from the Association of Food Journalists in 2015.

More from Sheryl

15 Comments / Reviews

No ImageVegetable Shakshuka with Pesto

Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Kelly Baehr

    Loved your version of shakshuka (I live in Israel, so it’s the go to recipe for a fast dish for a light lunch). I always add sliced red peppers. As to the tomatoes, I have made it with Italian canned whole tomatoes and it comes out really good, but the use of a blender for the tomatoes is a very good idea. I will surely give it a try, since I have a lot of basil growing like crazy by my kitchen window and the season is almost over.

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  2. Arcey

    I made this last week, with a few changes, but still the basic idea. It was very tasty, and like Elise, I also liked the blender idea for the tomatoes. I hardly ever use my blender for anything, so I wouldn’t have thought of that, but it did make it very easy to make a sauce using fresh tomatoes. I used 4 eggs and had 2 left over, which I heated up the next day. But the eggs didn’t do so well with a reheat.

    I had quite a bit of the sauce left, which I was looking forward to sopping up with bread for the next few days, or putting it over pasta. But then I looked at Elise’s “15 things to do with canned tuna” post, and I put a can of tuna in the sauce. It was very good with the tuna, and I did end up getting a few more days of sopping it up with crusty baguette. Thanks for the ideas!

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  3. Arcey

    This does sound and look very good. Not having a garden full of luscious tomatoes, I’m sure canned tomatoes would also be good in this recipe. I’ve only had something like this once in a restaurant for brunch, and I’m pretty sure they used canned tomatoes. It was very rich, and I think it might be more delicate and subtle with fresh tomatoes, but ya gotta use what ya got, right? :) Thanks for the recipe!

  4. Kate

    Have you ever eaten something you’ve never had before – and it tastes so familiar, so much like….Home? This is how I felt after trying this recipe. I’ve seen Shakshuka recipes for a while lately and have been wanting to try one. This showed up in my “inbox” while I was deciding what to do with the glut of garden tomatoes I had and I decided to give this one a try.
    All I can say is, “Wow”. I can see how flexible the recipe can be: I’m already thinking of adding things like spinach, mushrooms, garbanzos, even feta ….(maybe not all the same time!).
    It was a delicious last night and again as leftovers for breakfast. This will be a new staple in my home. Thank you!


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  5. Sheryl Julian

    Thank you for the compliment! I agree: eggs are one of the world’s most perfect foods. Happy cooking!

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