15 October 2007
Speckled Butter Bean Shakshouka with Yogurt Sauce
I grew up going to farmers markets and roadside stands where fresh shell beans were readily available. My family is from the south, which means fresh butter beans, baby limas, and black eyed peas are held in high regard. As much as I love New York and its Greenmarket, it is rather lacking in the fresh bean arena. I guess New Yorkers just aren’t beans people. That’s too bad, because fresh beans are wonderful: they cook up in minutes, and they’re far superior to canned beans and much easier than rehydrating dried beans. This past week I was delighted to see an array of fresh beans in Maryland, beautiful coolers full of slippery black beans, limas, crowder peas, and speckled butter beans.
Shakshouka is a Middle Eastern dish in which eggs are poached in a simmering vegetable mixture. The most traditional version of shakshouka involves eggs in a spicy tomato sauce, but it can also be made with beans or other vegetables. In the spring, shakshouka is made with a fresh fava bean and artichoke mixture, and in winter the eggs can be poached in a stew of dried fava beans and sausage. I’ve reinterpretted this Middle Eastern dish with American ingredients, using those speckled butter beans. Shakshouka is often served with a yogurt sauce made of yogurt and tahini, but to keep in the American way I’ve used peanut butter. Yogurt and peanut butter may sound like an odd combination, but they make a delicious sauce. This makes a nice brunch dish or a simple dinner, and make sure to have some toast or flat bread for mopping up the juices.
Butter Bean Shakshouka with Yogurt Sauce
If fresh beans aren’t available you can substitute 3 cups cooked beans and reduce the cooking time slightly. For those who can’t have a meal without meat, some chunks of merguez sausage make a good addition. Serve with pita bread or toast. Serves 4.
1/2 a medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb fresh shell beans, like lima, butter, or fava beans
1 sprig thyme, optional
juice of half a lemon
olive oil, salt, red pepper
for yogurt sauce:
6 oz. plain yogurt
1 heaping tablespoon peanut butter or tahini
squeeze of lemon juice
1. Heat a glug of olive oil in a wide skillet or dutch oven. Saute the onion and garlic over medium heat until soft and translucent. Add 2 cups of water to the pan and add the beans and thyme, there should be enough water to half-way cover the beans. Season to taste with salt and red pepper. Simmer the mixture for 15-20 minutes until the beans are tender, adding water as necessary. Squeeze in the lemon juice.
2. One at a time, crack an egg and slide it into the simmering bean mixture, spacing them evenly in the pan. Place a lid on the pan and simmer over low heat until the egg whites are opaque and the yolks are soft set but still runny.
3. Scoop some of the beans into your serving bowls, then gently scoop an egg into each bowl. Stir together the yogurt, nut butter, and lemon. Drizzle the yogurt sauce over each bowl. Serve immediately with bread.