I do love Shakshuka, and have so far made it only with tomatoes and peppers. When I saw this intriguing recipe for a green Shakshuka on Pinch of Yum, I wanted to try it out. The Pinch of Yum recipe uses Almond and Coconut milk, but I needed to use up all the greens in my fridge, the kale, the Swiss chard, the fresh herbs. I’ve been trying out a series of recipes with kale, so instead of almond milk, decided to make this with kale and with the parsley, coriander pesto described in the original recipe. I did add some Russian Tarragon too, to the Green Shakshuka . I should make this the Pinch of Yum way too, soon, it looked delicious.
So, back to my version of green Shakshuka. I like different textures in the dishes I prepare, so I added a little green capsicum apart from the pesto and kale. Also sautéed onions before wilting the kale, as I had made onion and kale toppings for pizza a few days ago, and the taste was awesome.
I have earlier had kale only when in my daughter Lakshmi’s place at Connecticut. She has kale growing in the garden in the backyard of her lovely home there, and it was always a treat to be able to pick them fresh for salads and to gather in the herbs I needed for the dressings or for pesto. Kale has not been available in Bangalore.
Last week however, First Agro Farms supplied some gorgeous kale that they had cultivated in the farms at Talakad, near Mysore. Global vegetables grown locally, indeed! I now had these two bunches of Russian Kale and Tuscan Kale. I took some of the fresh Tuscan kale for pizza toppings as I said earlier, but yesterday I noticed that the Russian Kale was beginning to turn yellow, so into the Green Shakshuka ingredients list it went.
Kale, the Superfood
Kale, as you all know, is one of the superfoods, abundant in nutrition and with disease fighting properties, and has been known since the time of the Romans. During World War II, at the time of intense rationing, authorities in the U.K. encouraged the backyard cultivation of this hearty, easy to grow plant for the Dig for Victory campaign, that likely saved many from sickness and starvation.
Though Kale is often taken raw, in salads, sources such as whfoods say that steaming brings out special cholesterol-lowering benefits, since the fibre-related components in kale bind together better with bile acids during digestion, when steamed, ultimately helping to reduce cholesterol levels. Raw kale still has cholesterol-lowering ability—just not as much.
Kale’s nutrient richness is said to comprise (1) antioxidant nutrients, (2) anti-inflammatory nutrients, and (3) anti-cancer nutrients in the form of glucosinolate. Kale’s cancer preventive benefits have been linked, in research, to its high and unusual concentration of antioxidants, viz, carotenoids and flavonoids. At the top of the cancer-related research for kale are colon cancer and breast cancer, but risk of bladder cancer, prostate cancer, and ovarian cancer have all been found to decrease in relationship to routine intake of kale.
Kale also has important omega 3 content, which is good news for vegetarians who otherwise have very few sources for this essential nutrient believed to improve cardiovascular health as well as improving learning and behavioural stimulation in children.
Kale has unusually high levels of Vitamin K as well as having vitamins A, B6 and C and minerals and fibre content and has all the essential amino acids which are required for building protein in the body. It is said to contain more calcium per gram, than whole milk and the calcium in kale is absorbed more easily than milk.
If with all this, I have not convinced you to add kale into your regular diet, then I don’t know what will! Specially when you have delicious recipes like this one for the Green Shakshuka, to try out.
Parsley probably originated in the Mediterranean region and was in use for more than 2,000 years, first as medicine and then later on in food. The ancient Greeks held parsley to be sacred, using it to not only adorn victors of athletic contests, but also for decorating the tombs of the deceased. Botanical.com site has some interesting stories about the history of parsley:
The Ancient Greeks thought that Hercules used a garland of parsley so they would crown the winners of games and war with garlands of parsley in honor of the great feats of Hercules. Homer wrote of Greek soldiers feeding parsley to their horses so they would run better. The herb is also associated with the hero god Archemorous, the herald of death, and legend has it that parsley sprang up where his blood drenched the ground after serpents devoured him. Later it became associated with Persephone who guided the souls of the dead to the underworld and was used to decorate the tombs and graves of the dead, in hopes of pleasing her. Christians replaced Persephone with St. Peter, but maintained the connection between parsley and guidance of the soul. Parsley can take 2-4 weeks to start from seed. An old folk legend explains that parsley has to go to Hades and back 9 times before it will germinate. Charlemagne was said to have enjoyed cheese sprinkled with parsley seeds, and this has been suggested as the early use of parsley for seasoning and garnish.
The nutrient value of parsley is multifold and all parts of the plant give nutrient benefits. The roots contain essential oils and mucilage; the seeds have essential oils and terpenes. The leaves have some essential oils but have significant levels of vitamins A and C. In fact, they have more vitamin C content than oranges. The leaves are also rich in chlorophyll, which is a great antiseptic and can be used in a poultice for small cuts and bites, as well as being a breath freshener. The leaves are also full of minerals, iron, calcium, potassium, thiamin, niacin and riboflavin. Parsley has diuretic qualities and help flush the kidneys.
Recent research is focussed on the cancer fighting properties of parsley. Its volatile oils are said to neutralise certain carcinogens and to protect healthy tissues from the effect of anti cancer drugs. Research suggests that Apigenin, a compound found in parsley, has strong anti-cancer properties.
Plus, parsley is a rich source of chlorophyll and fiber and also vitamins A, C, and E, as well as beta-carotene, lutein, cryptoxanthin, zeaxanthin, and folate. It also has more vitamin K than kale.
The Parsley pesto with pistachio nuts complemented the kale green Shakshuka very nicely.
Coriander or Cilantro:
Coriander (the leaves are often referred to as Cilantro) belong to the same plant family (Umbelliferae) as Parsley. The use of coriander seeds in food, have been traced to 5,000 BC, making it one of the world’s oldest spices. It is native to the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions and has been known in Asian countries for thousands of years. It was cultivated in ancient Egypt and is mentioned in the Old Testament. It was used as a spice in both Greek and Roman cultures, the latter using it to preserve meats and flavour breads. The early physicians, including Hippocrates, used coriander for its medicinal properties, including as an aromatic stimulant.
Coriander is known to have multiple health benefits, a good source for dietary fibre, manganese, iron and magnesium as well as rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin K and protein. Coriander contains an antibacterial compound that is being studied as a safe, natural means of fighting Salmonella. Due to its antioxidant capabilities, coriander is thought to have cancer fighting properties.
Tarragon is known as a good source for minerals such as magnesium, iron, zinc, and calcium as well as being is rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C as well as B-6. It contains antioxidants that help to neutralize free radicals in the body. Tarragon helps to support cardiovascular health.
All in all this recipe for Green Shakshuka below is full of nutrients and cancer fighting greens.
Green Shakshuka of Kale with a Parsley Pesto
For the Shakshuka:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup onion - minced
- 2 cups kale - chopped
- 2 Eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon salt - or to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
For the Pesto:
- 1 cup parsley - leaves shredded
- 1 cup coriander leaves - shredded
- 1 tablespoon tarragon - leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup pistachio - shelled
- 1 - 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 chilli - Fresh sliced, (inner ribs and seeds removed)
- 1 - 2 tablespoons water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 tablespoon Lemon juice lemon - or from 1/2
To make the Parsley Cilantro Tarrgon Pesto
- Wash and spin dry the herbs. Separate the leaves and shred. Slice thin, tender stalks and discard the rest, or set aside for use in soup.
- Add all the ingredients for the pesto, except for the water, into the blender. Go slow on the salt as the quantity will reduce after grinding, so you may want to add a little salt and then check the taste after you blend the mixture.
- Add a little water, and grind to a rough paste. Add a little more water if required to help achieve the required consistency.
- Set aside till required for the Shakshuka.
To make the Shakshuka:
- The quantities of ingredients above are for one plate of Green Shakshuka as it is normally prepared for individual servings. If you are making more than one serving, you would need to increase the quantities proportionately except for the oil and the seasonings which would need to be as required for larger quantities.
- Wash and spin dry the kale. Separate the leaves and keep the thin stems aside for use in soup or discard the same.
- Slice the kale leaves. I roll them up like a cigar, and then slice into thin ribbons, and again slice the ribbons across into 1/2 inch pieces.
- Heat a frying pan, add one table spoon of olive oil, let it warm up and then add the minced onions. Sauté for about 3-4 minutes, stirring often so the onion doesn't brown.
- When I made this dish, I sautéed the kale and then added the capsicum. Next time I think I will first sauté the capsicum as in step 7 below, and then the kale, so that the kale doesn't get sautéed for long.
- Add the shredded kale, sauté for about 2 minutes till it wilts. Kale does not wilt as fast as spinach, and you don't need to overcook it, so 2 -3 minutes should be good. The bright green begins to discolour into a muddy olive green, as it cooks.
- Add the capsicum pieces and sauté for 2 minutes.
- Add two tablespoons of the pesto, or as much as you need for at least one 1/2 cm layer of pesto over the kale and onions.
- Add a little salt and pepper, keeping in mind that the pesto is already salted. Stir and check the seasoning, adding a little more if required. Sauté for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Break each egg gently into the pan, leaving space between the eggs.
- Season the egg yolks lightly with salt and pepper.
- Cook, covered, on a low flame for 5-10 minutes, depending on how runny or hard you want the yolks to be.
- Serve hot, with toasted bread or flatbread or pita. I had homemade multigrain bread which tasted very nice when dipped in the green shakshuka.