I get excited on a multitude of levels whenever I hear the phrase “breakfast for dinner.”

As the diner, I’m excited about mixing it up a bit and enjoying something different for the evening meal. As the cook, I’m excited about a meal that’s likely to be easier to make (and to clean up after) than the standard supper fare.

Shakshuka delivers on both levels.

It’s an egg and tomato dish that, while originating in North Africa, has become enormously popular throughout the Middle East, and particularly in Israel, where it’s practically the national dish. Lately, its popularity seems to have taken hold in the U.S., too.

I’m not surprised, as it’s quick, easy, versatile, absolutely addictive and is at home on the dinner table as it is at Sunday brunch.

Start by sautéing onions and peppers on a high heat until they are slightly charred, then add garlic, spices and tomatoes. The whole mixture is topped with eggs and cooked until the whites are set, but the yolks are still slightly runny. That’s a classic shakshuka, but from there you can feel free to make it your own.

Having just spent a week in Israel, I can tell you there are a million ways to riff on this basic recipe. Here are just a few ideas.

Eggplant shakshuka: Brush olive oil on eggplant rounds, season them with salt, pepper and sumac (a Middle Eastern spice with a lemony taste) and roast them in a 425-degree oven until browned. Arrange the slices of eggplant in between the cooked eggs and serve.

Spicy shakshuka: The basic recipe includes the option of adding a hot chile. In Israel, I had a version that must have included 3 or 4 and it almost blew my head off my shoulders. I loved every painful bite.

Humshuka: This one might be my favorite. Hummus in Israel is a revelation (a discussion for another week), but any hummus would be delicious slightly warmed and smeared on a plate before being topped with a generous helping of shakshuka.

One of the easiest and most delicious variations is simply to scatter feta cheese, toasted pine nuts and cilantro on the top of the shakshuka. The addition of the salty cheese and crunchy nuts is delightful and makes the finished dish seem that much more special.

 

Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at meredith@meredithdeeds.com. Follow her on Twitter ­at

@meredithdeeds.