This vegan shakshuka recipe will make you look forward to Sunday brunch! Comforting and full of flavor with sauteed shishito peppers and onion, our elevated tofu scramble comes together within half an hour from start to finish.
Let's answer some burning questions about shakshuka first:
What is Shakshuka Anyway?
Shakshuka is a dish of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, olive oil, peppers, and onion. It is basically yet another cucina povera recipe (translates from Italian as "cooking of the poor" or "peasant cooking") that, in my opinion, tastes far better than many dishes out there that are made with lavish ingredients.
In the last decade, the famous Israeli-British chef Yotam Ottolenghi helped in popularizing the dish in the Western world. It is very likely that you've come across it at some point, perhaps on a brunch menu or while scrolling through popular New York Times recipes.
What is the Difference between Shakshuka and Menemen (or its other variations)?
Other versions of shakshuka exist all over the globe with minor differences in ingredients: huevos a la flamenca (Andalusian, with chorizo), uova in purgatorio (Italian, different spices), matbukha (North African, minus the eggs).
Personally, I grew up eating shashuka under the name of "menemen" in Turkey. Its main difference from shakshuka as it is popularly known in the Western world is in how the eggs are cooked. Usually, the eggs in şakşuka are poached whereas in menemen they are scrambled—though not always.
In fact, allow me to make this even more complicated: even though I’m calling this dish shakshuka— what we call shakshuka in Turkey is quite different: fried eggplants with tomato sauce. No eggs involved.
Where is Shakshuka From?
Although many sources claim that shakshuka can be traced back to the Ottoman Empire, where it used to include meat, there doesn't seem to be a specific origin since many scrambled egg dishes with tomatoes exist around the world. You may see the following being offered as shakshuka's birthplace: Tunisia, Spain, Morocco, Israel, or Yemen.
Menemen, however, certainly has Mediterranean origins. It is said that Turkish migrants from the island of Crete brought it to my hometown of Izmir in the 1920s. The former Cretans migrated to a district called “Menemen” in the city and started making their delicious tomatoey stew. The dish was soon adopted by the whole country, thanks to its comforting taste, affordability, and practicality.
What is the Best Way to Substitute Eggs in Shakshuka or Menemen?
We are substituting eggs with soft silken tofu in this otherwise authentic Turkish version of the dish. Soft regular tofu or Just Egg will work as well.
From a purely appearance perspective, the Just Egg scramble will look the most authentic as it can be left undisturbed to resemble individual poached eggs. I still prefer it mixed in.
Additionally, if you really like the flavor of eggs in general, certainly get your hands on some black salt (aka kala namak) to add some of the sulphuric compounds found in eggs.
Do Onions Belong in Menemen?
Perhaps only eclipsed by the decades-long debate of adding vinegar vs. lemons into our pickle juice, this one remains a big culinary question for Turkey. In 2018, a famous food critic, Vedat Milor, polled his Twitter audience to weigh in on THE question and received 437,657 responses. The verdict... was "yes, we prefer it soganli (with onion)"—by a margin of less than 1%:
While many agree that onions make the dish better, they are often against using them if menemen is being cooked for breakfast. But bad breath shouldn't become an issue since we are cooking down the onions for 20+ minutes, in case you care about that sort of thing.
My family loves onions so we use them in pretty much any dish that it makes sense to, including menemen. However, if you aren't a big fan of onions or alliums in general, then you may simply skip it entirely or substitute it with more shishito peppers.
Now that we've answered the most important questions on this dish, I hope you’ll give it a try and experience it first hand! Let's move on to the recipe:
Ingredients for Vegan Shakshuka Recipe
- 2 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for serving
- 1 cup onion, finely diced (about 1 small onion, ~120g)
- 1 cup shishito peppers, finely diced (see note 1, ~110g)
- 1 cup tomatoes, chopped and peeled (see note 2, ~200g)
- 1 block soft silken tofu (see note 3, ~400g)
- 1 teaspoon Urfa chili flakes (see note 4)
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano leaves
- salt & pepper to taste
- optional: ⅛ teaspoon black salt (kala namak)
- parsley, chopped (to garnish)
- bread (to serve)
- You may also use Padron or Anaheim peppers if you don't mind the extra spice.
- I prefer using canned San Marzano tomatoes in the winter when there are no good fresh tomatoes available.
- 1 block is usually 14-16oz. You may also substitute with regular soft tofu, or Just Egg's vegan scramble.
- Urfa pepper is a smoky, incredibly delicious type of chili from Turkey that takes months to make. It is certainly a staple for Turkish cooking. I would highly recommend using Urfa biber in this dish; however, Aleppo or regular chili flakes in combination with smoked paprika would work as well.
How to Make Vegan Shakshuka Recipe (Turkish Menemen)
- Heat olive oil over low heat in a nonstick skillet or traditional sahan. When the oil is warm, add the onion, shishito peppers, Urfa chili flakes, and dried oregano, then stir.
- Season with salt and pepper. Cook over low-medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Once the onions and peppers are softened, add the tomatoes and continue cooking for another 10 minutes.
- Add in the tofu (or Just Egg scramble), and break it off. Season with regular salt or black salt and pepper one more time, and gently stir. Cook for another few minutes until the tofu gets warm (or longer if using Just Egg).
- If desired, add extra olive oil and chopped parsley to serve. This dish is usually enjoyed without utensils, using bread as a delicious vessel instead.
Watch how to make it step-by-step here:
this vegan shakshuka recipe is:
- vegan / plant-based
- & delicious!
want more traditional turkish recipes? start here:
- Raw vegan meatballs (the most popular Aegean Delight recipe!)
- Turkish Spinach Pie
- Stuffed Vine Leaves & Tart Cherry Stuffed Vine Leaves (my favorite!)
- Zucchini Fritters
- Semolina Cake (aka Sambali–from my hometown!)
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you make this recipe! Afiyet olsun (bon appetite)!Print