Usually this is the time of year when I post my annual gripe about springtime in Minnesota, a season that is more likely to feature blizzards than blossoming tulips (Mike: "Did you have Easter egg hunts when you were a kid?" Me: "No, because there was always snow on the ground.") In contrast, this spring has been unusually spring-like. Warmer-than-average temperatures melted all of the snow in March, and there weren't any late-season snowstorms to replenish it. April has been an idyllic picture-book vision of springtime renewal, with green grass, budding trees, and breezy days in the 60s and 70s. Honestly, it's a little weird--I keep looking over my shoulder, convinced that a blast of Arctic air is going to swoop down from the north and spoil everything.
But if a lifetime of dealing with Minnesota weather has taught me anything, it's that you roll with whatever Mother Nature throws your way. In the winter, you bundle up in a down parka and hand-knit wool accessories, keep a snow shovel in the car trunk, and eat a lot of soup. In the summer, you savor dinner on the patio every evening and go to Sebastian Joe's for ice cream. And if you are blessed with the rare Minnesota spring, you spend your lunch breaks in Loring Park, watching the ducks paddle around the lake as you relish the sun on your face, and when you go home you cook up a spicy combination of leeks, spinach, and eggs for dinner, which you then eat on the patio.
Shakshuka is a North African egg dish typically made with a tomato-based sauce, but this version substitutes sautéed spinach. I seasoned the dish with a diced habanero pepper, which was a bit much; I'd recommend using half a pepper, or leaving it out completely if you don't like spicy food. Be sure to use an oven-proof skillet--after cooking the vegetables on the stovetop, you add the cheese and eggs and finish the dish in the oven. We served this with toast, but it would also be good with a side of wheat berries or bulgur.
Adapted from the Kitchn recipe by Karen Biton-Cohen
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 leeks, halved and thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 habanero pepper, finely diced (optional)
- 5 ounce package baby spinach (about 2 cups tightly packed)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 cup feta cheese
- 4 eggs
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add oil and tilt to evenly coat. Add the leeks and cook, stirring frequently, until just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and pepper, if using, and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is golden, about 3 minutes. Add the spinach, oregano, and cumin and stir until spinach is wilted.
Remove skillet from heat. Sprinkle the feta over the cooked spinach mixture. Crack the eggs over the spinach mixture, evenly spacing them around the edge of the skillet.
Transfer skillet to oven and bake for 14 minutes, or until edges of eggs are set.