Monday, May 18, 2015

Vegging Out

There are certain days that I just can't get enough meat (that's what she said), but those days are usually followed by a day or two of not wanting to touch a piece of meat with a 10 foot pole.

My husband can attest.

After eating alllll the pork for dinner and then again as leftovers a couple days later, I was really craving something lighter. The Pinterest Machine FTW, again. I did a quick search of vegetarian-keto recipes, and in the piles of cauliflower, fat bombs, and desserts, I stumbled upon a middle eastern dish called Shakshuka and knew it had to happen. I'd made Italian baked eggs, or eggs in purgatory (my version similar to the one here), so I knew it was a flavor profile I'd like. All I had to do was adjust the recipe to make it a bit less carby.

The rest of my inspiration came during my weekly shopping trip to Trader Joes. I stood before the wall o'cheese, waiting for one (or three) of them to yell "PICK ME! PICK ME!" when a cheese marked halloumi seductively whispered my name. Halloumi is a Mediterranean cheese with a very high melting point, similar to Indian paneer and Mexican, that I've been wanting to cook with but haven't yet. Because it doesn't melt when you cook it, you can actually grill/saute it for added flavor, and it keeps it's chewy-cheesy texture in sauces - YUM! And NO CARBS! I immediately pictured little grilled cubes of cheese dotting the spicy tomato sauce of the shakshuka and couldn't get that halloumi into my cart fast enough!

Mediterranean Style Shakshuka
(Baked Eggs In Spicy Tomato Sauce)


7 oz halloumi cheese (or paneer or queso fresco), diced
1 Tbs coconut oil or red palm oil (or other fat of choice)
6 oz white button mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbs onion, finely diced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
salt and pepper

optional spices - according to your taste/preference -

curry powder
garlic powder
smoked paprika
chili powder
crushed red pepper
pinch of sweetener (to balance the spice/acidity)

4 eggs

Preheat a large nonstick skillet over med-high to high heat. Add the cheese cubes to the hot pan and allow to brown. It will take a couple of minutes for the excess liquid to cook out, but just be patient and let it evaporate. Once the cheese dries out it will begin to brown beautifully. Stir occasionally to promote even browning. When done, remove to a bowl and reserve for later. Try and resist the urge to just stop here and have cheese for dinner. Because part of you will want to.

Add the oil to the hot pan (med-high heat) and add the mushrooms. Saute until they begin to brown, then add the onions and jalapeno and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until they begin to soften, then add your preferred spices and toast for a minute to bring out their flavors. Add the tomatoes and cheese and season as necessary with salt. Let the sauce simmer a few minutes to meld the flavors. One egg at a time, crack an egg into the bowl of a ladle, then pick a spot on top of the sauce to nestle the ladle down into, then pour the egg into the divot created by the ladle as you remove the ladle from the pan. This creates a little niche for the egg to poach in without spreading egg white all over the top of your beautiful rosy sauce. Repeat the process with the remaining eggs, then cover the pan with a lid. Simmer gently until the eggs aren't snotty. If desired, top with a sprinkle of something fresh and green like cilantro, parsley, chives, celery leaves, basil, chopped spinach, arugula, or whatever you have on hand. It adds a layer of flavor but mostly just looks real purdy.

Serves 4
Approximate nutrition per serving ~ 314 calories, 22.4 g fat, 2.7 net carbs, 20.8 g protein

This dish is traditionally served with some kind of bread, but I went a different direction...

I'm continually inspired by Mellissa over at I Breathe I'm Hungry, and her recipe for low carb falafel (FAUXLAFEL! Yay puns!) sounded amazing, so I decided to give it a go. Except my calorie restrictions said NO to fried fauxlafel AND cheesy shakshuka, so I improvised a bit with the method of cooking...

Fauxlafel Waffles

Whaaaat?!?! I'm not sure what happened first... the adapted recipe or me just wanting to SAY "fauxlafel waffle" and adapting the recipe to make it so, but here it is! No frying necessary to enjoy the full fauxlafel flavor!


1 cup cauliflower, chopped into medium sized pieces
2 oz almonds (about a half cup) crushed (mealy texture but still with some crunchy bits)
3 Tbs coconut flour
2 eggs
salt and pepper

optional spices/herbs - to your taste and preference -
curry powder
garlic powder
lemon zest

Microwave the cauliflower in a covered dish until tender-crisp, about 8 minutes. Drain excess water, then mash. Combine well with the other ingredients.

Spoon the mixture onto a preheated, greased waffle iron and cook until browned and crisp (about 4-5 minutes per waffle). I like to underfill the grid for more free-form, crispy edges, but that's just personal preference. Remove from iron carefully.

I served mine over a simple salad with tomato and cucumber and my Easy Tahini Dressing, alongside the shakshuka. Such a comforting meal!

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