Vegan Shakshuka breakfast casserole combines an easy mixture of onions, garlic, red pepper, tomatoes, and spices, topped with a gluten-free chickpea crust for a one-pan breakfast casserole ready to shake off the morning haze and brighten your day.
This recipe lands someplace between a frittata, a pie, and a casserole. You decide. I’m not bothered because all I’m really interested in is making something quick, tasty, and different for our weekend brunch.
Full disclosure – we’ve has this for lunch and dinner several times too.
There are several reasons why this meal suits any meal of the day. It has a savory tomato filling that is protein-fortified with a chickpea flour crust. Serious satisfaction
What is Shakshuka?
Shakshuka (shakshouka) is a traditional North African dish of saucy tomatoes, peppers, onions, and spices. Great vegan ingredients, right? But here’s where we’ll be breaking with tradition. The idea behind the dish and how you’ll see it often is with eggs cracked directly into the simmering pan. After they cook, the casserole is ready to serve.
Shakshuka, a favorite Israeli meal, means all mixed up. We’re going to do a bit of mixing up ourselves because while we will stick with the traditional tomato mixture and spices, we’re building us a breakfast casserole.
Here’s how we'll accomplish this in super-simple steps:
The saucy tomato mixture is simple, tasty, genius.
Onions – Grab a medium-large onion, cut it in half from stem to end, lay each half cut-side down, and slice it.
Red bell pepper – It’s not a requirement that you use red pepper. A yellow or even green will do. My preference for red is that it lends extra sweetness. I find green slightly bitter, but if you like the flavor, go with it.
Just like the onions, slices of red pepper add a nice texture and pretty presentation. Once you cut the
Garlic – Use 4 plump cloves of garlic and add that after the onions and red pepper have cooked. You only need to stir a little before adding the spices.
The spices – Paprika (preferably smoked), chili powder (use a good one), and cumin provide a favorable combination that only gets better as the tomatoes cook and reduce.
Tomatoes – Canned cherry tomatoes or diced tomatoes make this recipe easy. Use good-quality tomatoes that are canned in their own juice.
Keep it simple. You will be adding specific spices, so this isn’t a good recipe for Italian style or tomatoes with additional spices.
The cooking process is quick.
Start with a heated skillet, then add the onions and red peppers. Because we aren’t using oil (we never do), be attentive to the skillet. It will only take about 5 minutes, so stir them consistently.
Once the onions start to get translucent and the peppers soft, mix in the garlic and then the spices.
Keep the pan to a slow simmer to avoid tomato spatter (no fun). Use a wooden spoon to carefully break up the tomatoes. Bring the pan to a slow simmer and cover it. Stir it a few times to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan and ensure it isn’t boiling.
Now, turn on the oven. In a few minutes, we’ll add a chickpea flour ‘lid’ over the saucy tomatoes. Then we'll sit back and bake up some breakfast magic.
There are four ingredients, including water needed to make the chickpea crust batter.
Chickpea flour – Garbanzo flour, gram flour, or besan – the same name for flour made from dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans).
Chickpea flour is a popular gluten-free option for thickening sauces and stews. It also makes an exceptional binder for things like burgers.
Sans gluten is not the only reason you should consider chickpea flour. There is a high value of nutrition compared to wheat flour, including more protein, less fat for starters. I’ll take that.
And because it isn’t made from wheat, chickpea flour behaves a bit differently. It’s dense and sticky. When you use it to make pancakes, quiche, or in our case, a crust, it won’t be flaky but behaves more like an egg-based crust (think frittata).
The latter characteristic is why we’re using it. Our aim is to make a topping for the saucy tomatoes that gives our casserole flavor, protein, and sustenance. That's how to start the day!
Turmeric – Earthy, slightly bitter, and peppery, turmeric adds flavor, but admittedly, it’s also the beautiful yellow-orange color we're after. Flavorful sunshine in a teaspoon, that's turmeric.
Salt – It’s not often that I advise adding salt until after cooking. But after testing this recipe several times, add ½ a teaspoon of salt. I found the flavor of the crust, and thus, the overall dish is lacking without it.
Water – For 2 cups of chickpea flour, you’ll use 1 ½ - 2 cups of water. You’re mixing a pourable batter, not making a vegan crust to be rolled out.
- MIT (most important tip) – The minute you pour the batter, you need to get your pan straight into a HOT oven.
- Mix the flour, turmeric, and salt first.
- Add the water slowly. Start with ½ a cup and whisk that into the flour. Repeat with another ½ a cup of water, then start adding water ¼ of a cup at a time.
- The batter may be a bit lumpy. Try to whisk away what you can, but don’t fret the lumps. They will dissipate as the crust bakes.
- You want the crust to be thin enough to bake through, so consider the size of your pan. I used an oven-proof skillet with a diameter of 12 inches (30 centimeters).
- Try not to get the batter too thick on the top. Keep it about ¼ of an inch, but not more than ½ an inch.
- Check that the crust feels firm in the middle. If you worry that it’s not done, you can also test it using a toothpick. If you pierce the middle and it comes out clean, the crust is likely done.
- I've made this dish a lot. And once, I ended up cutting into it, only to discover that the crust was cooked enough. When I cut into the casserole, the crust was still 'battery' in the middle. I’m no quitter – I popped it right back into the oven, baked it another 10 minutes. It was as delicious as ever. I’m sharing this with you because cooking, like life (or oven temperatures), isn't always perfect. At least in the case of slightly raw batter, it’s easy to make right.
After removing the casserole from the oven, allow it to sit for 5 minutes. The pan will be hot. Please be mindful that this includes the handle of the skillet. I speak from experience.
If you want to add a bit of color and flavor, add chopped cilantro (coriander) and/or parsley. It adds notes of fresh peppery flavor. Lemon wedges are a tasty addition for those of you who like it zesty.
If you store leftovers in a small casserole dish with the crust-side up, it’s easy to reheat. Cover the dish with foil and reheat at 4250 F. (2200 C.) for 15 minutes or until the filling starts to bubble. You can also reheat it in the microwave.
Chickpea flour can be made by grinding dried chickpeas using a high-powered food processor. I’ve made it in a spice grinder as well. After processing, run the flour through a fine-mesh strainer so that you can catch any chickpea pieces that have not been broken up.
You can make this breakfast casserole in an oven-proof dish or baking pan. Simply transfer the tomato filling and then pour over the chickpea batter.
More breakfast (or anytime) ideas
vegan shakshuka breakfast casserole
Start the day with a one-pan vegan shakshuka breakfast casserole bursting with saucy, spicy tomatoes topped with a gluten-free chickpea crust.
- Prep Time: 15 min
- Cook Time: 40 min
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: 6 servings 1x
- Category: Casseroles
- Cuisine: North African
- Diet: Vegan
- 1 medium onion, cut in half, and sliced
- 2 red bell pepper, cored and sliced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
- 2 tsp. paprika (smoked is preferred)
- ½ tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 - 28 oz. (800 gm.) can of cherry or diced tomatoes in juice
- 2 cups of chickpea flour
- 1 tsp, turmeric
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 ½ cups of water
- ¼ cup of chopped cilantro and/or parsley (optional)
- In a heated oven-proof skillet, add the onion and pepper slices. Stir the vegetables frequently for 5 minutes until they are soft.
- Mix in the garlic, and then add the spices. Stir everything well.
- Add the tomatoes and lower the heat a bit to avoid splatter. Use a wooden spoon to break up the tomatoes and mix them with the rest of the ingredients.
- Decrease the heat to low and cover the pot. Stir the mixture a few times as you mix the batter.
- Before making the batter, it’s important to preheat the oven to 4250 F. (2200 C). Once you pour the batter over the filling, you need to immediately place it into a hot oven.
- To make the batter, in a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, turmeric, and salt.
- Whisk in ½ a cup of water, then add another ½ a cup and continue whisking. Add the remaining water. Whisk to remove any larger lumps. Smaller lumps will dissipate once the batter cooks.
- If you do not have an oven-proof skillet, transfer the tomatoes to a baking dish or pan. Pour the batter over the top as evenly as possible, about ¼ of an inch thick. If you need to, use the back of a spoon or spatula to even it out.
- Immediately place the skillet in the oven and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes until the crust is firm and slightly brown. Be sure to check the middle of the pan for doneness.
- Remove the skillet from the oven and allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes. Be careful as the handle will remain hot.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro and/or parsley, or serve it on the table to garnish individual slices.
- Use a big enough skillet or baking dish so that the batter is not too thick. I used a 12- inch skillet. It is ok if the batter does not fully cover the edges of the pan. Don’t worry if the filling starts to seep through after you pour the batter, but don’t linger. Get the pan into the oven immediately.
- Reheat leftovers in a casserole dish with the crust on top. Cover with foil and bake at 4250 F. (2200 C.) for 15 minutes or until the saucy tomatoes start to bubble with warmth.
Keywords: vegan shakshuka breakfast casserole