Eric Morris is the executive chef at Cultura and the Funkatorium by Wicked Weed Brewing, which was a semifinalist for a James Beard Award in 2020. Eric has been cooking professionally for over two decades, including as chef de cuisine for the critically acclaimed Nightbell in Asheville and Pearl & Ash in New York City. He served as sous chef for Tom Colicchio’s Riverpark, where he helped to establish Riverpark Farm, a portable urban farm initially built in milk crates at a 15,000-square-foot stalled construction site.
Shakshuka is an easy, satisfying meal. You can make this using all bell peppers, but at Cultura we started experimenting with using fermented peppers. It gives the dish an extra depth of flavor. We’re using aji dulce peppers from Gaining Ground Farm and Flying Cloud Farm. Aji dulce have a quality where they smell like they’re going to be really spicy, but they’re not spicy at all. So it’s not painful to eat. They have a fruity funkiness to them. That flavor works really well with the fermentation. We ferment them with a three-percent salt brine for seven to ten days.
Shopping locally from farms helps provide a stronger sense of community—and the products are always so much better than commodity. I go to markets twice a week and it’s great to develop a relationship with farmers I source from, who are all kind and caring people growing amazing food. I enjoy knowing what they’re planning to grow and what they’re excited about. Going to the market isn’t something I do just for work, but time I get to share with my family. I get to watch my four-year-old daughter be excited about eating different foods and developing her favorites. She’s an expert on local peppers!
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 onions, thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced (or use 3-4 red bell peppers instead of fermented aji dulce peppers)
- 5 lacto fermented aji dulce peppers, thinly sliced
- 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 6 cups whole tomatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 eggs
- 1 ounce feta cheese
- 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In a medium sauté pan, slowly cook onions and peppers together for approximately 20 minutes or until they begin to “melt.” Add garlic and cook until tender. Add spices and stir. Add tomatoes and continue to cook until most of their moisture has evaporated, about 10 to 15 minutes. Adjust seasoning if needed.
- Crack open eggs into the tomato mixture. Place the pan in the oven and bake about 8 minutes, or until egg whites are completely cooked through.
- Remove from the oven. Sprinkle feta cheese, parsley, and lemon juice on top of the baked eggs.
- Serve hot and enjoy with a toasted slice of bread.