It’s shuka time!
Credit: Getty / Westend61

Breakfasts can be tough. Often touted as the most important meal of the day, with encouragement from doctors to make a balanced meal of protein, carbs and healthy fats, for many of us the daily grind of breakfast can be more pain than pleasure. But think about weekend brunches, and how much we love them? Hearty dishes, comfort foods, lingering over delicious treats. What if you could get that brunch energy into your weekday mornings without having to get up with the sun to start faffing about in the kitchen?

You absolutely can. 

If you embrace a technique that has been the darling of many a brunch menu for many years now, and have a stash of eggs on hand, your morning repast can get a serious upgrade without too much fuss at all. And it starts with your dinner. If you are cooking a dish that is a bit saucy (main dishes like stews, curries, soupy beans, juicy stir-fries, a slumpy casserole), all you need to ask yourself is "Will it shuka?"

Shakshuka is a Middle Eastern dish of spicy tomato and vegetable ragout that you bake with eggs cracked on top and serve with bread to sop it up. It is balanced, good for you, fun to eat, and not difficult to make. But if you use the idea as a jumping off point, you can bake eggs on top of any leftover dinner you might have! Adding eggs immediately makes it feel breakfasty, as does a side dish of some sort of toasted bread. You use up your leftovers, keep breakfast interesting, and set your day up with some proper fuel.

How to shuka last night's dinner

A reminder: The leftovers that work for this are dishes that have a decent amount of sauce. Think of using:

  • Stews
  • Soupy beans
  • Curries
  • Stir-frys that have some liquid in them
  • Casseroles on the saucy side

To make it manageable, just shift some of your morning routine. As soon as you get up, slip into the kitchen, take last night's leftovers out of the fridge to sit at room temp and preheat your oven to 400°. Then go about your usual morning routines. By the time you get back to the kitchen, your oven should be hot. Here's what comes next:

1. Fill an oven-safe skillet with a lid with about an 1-1 ½ inches of your leftovers in an even layer, then use the back of a spoon to make divots for your eggs. (If you are making for one, you can use a large ramekin instead of a skillet).

2. Crack an egg in each divot, one to two per person, drizzle a little olive oil on top of each egg with a sprinkle of salt and a grinding of pepper, pop the lid on then put in the oven and bake to your egg's desired doneness, if you like it runnier, about 6 minutes, if you want your eggs firm, go 8 or 9. (You can even beat your eggs before filling the divots for more of a steamed scramble.) It will be done in about the time it takes for your coffee to brew.

Serve hot with some sort of bread, whatever you have around. Buttered toast is a natural, but pitas are great, as are English muffins.

Want to make a traditional shakshuka? Try this version.