Healthy vegetarian comfort food with hearty whole grains in less than 30 minutes

By By Elizabeth Shaw, MS, RDN, CLT
September 21, 2017
Photo: Elizabeth Shaw, M.S., R.D.N., C.L.T.

If you've seen shakshuka on a brunch menu, but didn't want anyone to catch you asking Siri what it is, boy are you going to wish you had blindly ordered it regardless. This baked dish with hearty tomato sauce swimming around eggs is la crème de la crème of brunch meals.

Luckily, you don't have to wait for the next Sunday afternoon café plans. You can easily make this at home in less than 30 minutes. Plus, this recipe just so happens to be a nutritional powerhouse.

Eggs are the costar in this masterpiece, and, unless you're vegan, likely something you already have in your fridge. Not only are eggs a stellar source of protein (coming in at 6 grams per large egg), they're also filled with more than 20 percent of your daily values for B vitamins like biotin, choline, and pantothenic acid, which are essential to your energy reserves, as well as nutrients like selenium and molybdenum. (If eggs just aren't your thing, but you're looking for a high-protein breakfast, check out these eggless recipe ideas.)

And it wouldn't be shakshuka without tomatoes. Canned tomatoes are used in this recipe and they truly turn this dish into healthy comfort food. Tomatoes are a smart source of lycopene (a powerful antioxidant that keeps away free radicals that can cause cancer and heart disease). Despite the fact that with the tomato sauce and eggs together, you're looking at more than 18 grams of protein and a nice dose of veggies, there's still one important element that makes this particular shakshuka recipe so great: whole grains.

Most restaurants will serve theirs with a piece of toasted baguette, which is delicious, but opting for whole grains baked into the dish ensures your plate is well-balanced and will keep you full and satisfied. Quinoa is used here, but you could use brown rice, amaranth, or barley, too. Chef Sara Haas, R.D.N., L.D.N., suggests amping up the flavor of whichever whole grain you choose (for this recipe or any other) by boiling the grain in vegetable, chicken, or beef stock (rather than water), toasting the grain in a pan before cooking, or adding a bit of fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro at the end.

Hearty Shakshuka with Whole Grains

Makes: 2 servings (about 1 cup with 2 eggs each)


  • 1/2 cup quinoa (or whole grain of choice)
  • 1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 lemon wedge
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 11/2 cup (2 oz) chopped onion
  • 1 medium (5 oz) bell pepper (any color), chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes, no salt added
  • 4 large eggs
  • Red pepper flakes (optional garnish)


1. To prepare whole grain: Toast quinoa in large nonstick skillet for few minutes over low heat. Remove and set aside. Add vegetable broth to a small pot and bring to a boil. Add quinoa and kosher salt; stir. Reduce heat to simmer, and cook about 15 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Toss with 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice and chopped parsley.

2. Place a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil, onion, and bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes, or until softened. Add minced garlic, black pepper, Italian seasoning, and kosher salt. Stir and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then add tomatoes. Turn heat to medium, cover, and let cook for 5 minutes.

3. Remove lid and create four small holes in the tomato mixture with a spatula or a spoon. Carefully crack an egg into each hole, then cover the pan. Let cook for an additional 6 minutes or until white is firm and yolk is lightly set, but still loose. (If you prefer a firm yolk, cook for 8 minutes.)

4. Remove tomatoes and eggs pan from heat. Portion whole grain evenly among two bowls and create a small well in the center. Place 2 eggs and half portion of the tomato mixture on top. Enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of Fertility Foods Cookbook: 100+ Recipes to Nourish Your Body by Elizabeth Shaw, M.S., R.D.N., C.L.T. and Sara Haas, R.D.N., C.L.T.


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