This dish is a bit of a mess, which you may find liberating. Trust us, it’s intentional. The recipe falls in the “stuff on a potato” genre — the stuff in this case being eggs poached in tomato and/or pepper sauce, which is itself a riff on a Mediterranean shakshuka. It is built for two but is easy enough to scale up.
The potatoes are regular russets. You may need to dig deep in the pile to find spuds that are the right size and the same size, otherwise they won’t cook evenly and thoroughly. The microwave does a good job here, and to keep the skins from drying out, rub them with oil first. Medium-size eggs are a better fit than large ones. We found in testing that even when some of the egg whites slipped the bounds of their halved potatoes and cooked to a soft opaque white on the baking sheet, we just scooped them up and plopped them back on top for serving.
You could tweak this to your heart's content by using all roasted red peppers instead of the tomato-pepper combo. If you have tomato sauce on hand, that will save you a few minutes of prep. You could garnish with shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano or pinches of goat cheese instead of chopped parsley. Be sure to season the potatoes as well as the sauce.
2 russet potatoes, no more than 8 ounces each
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or more as needed
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, or more as needed
Freshly ground black pepper
2 medium cloves garlic
1 roasted red pepper (jarred)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more as needed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Whole, no-salt-added tomatoes from one 14.5-ounce can (no can juices; may substitute canned diced tomatoes, drained)
4 large eggs
Several stems curly or flat-leaf parsley, for garnish (may substitute fresh mint)
1. Scrub the potatoes well, cutting out any eyes or spots, then pat dry. Use a fork to poke each potato 4 or 5 times on each side. Rub the potatoes with some of the oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in a microwave-safe dish. Microwave on high for 5 minutes. Turn them over and microwave on high for an additional 2 or 3 minutes, until soft enough to squeeze. Let them cool on a cutting board.
2. Position an oven rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler element; preheat the broiler. Line a small rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
3. Meanwhile, mince the garlic and coarsely chop the roasted red pepper, placing them in a small saucepan as you work. Add the 2 tablespoons of oil, the 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt, the crushed red pepper flakes, and tomato paste. Place over medium-high heat and stir, cooking for just 45 seconds or so until everything is fragrant. Crush the tomatoes with your hands so they fall right into the saucepan; once the mixture begins to bubble at the edges, remove from the heat. Taste, and add more salt, as needed. Finely grate the zest of the ½ lemon directly into the sauce and stir to incorporate. This is your sauce.
4. Cut each cooled potato in half lengthwise, then use a fork to fluff up their insides. Place them on a small rimmed baking sheet. If the skins happen to tear, just shape the potato half back in place. Use the back of a spoon or ladle to create a deep well at the center of each potato half; you may need to take out a little of the potato flesh, which can be a cook’s treat, or you can add it back afterward.
5. Spoon the sauce onto each potato half; season lightly with more crushed red pepper flakes, if desired. Reshape a well at the center of each sauce portion; this is where an egg will sit.
6. Crack an egg into a small bowl, then gently slide it into the sauce well of one potato half. Repeat with the remaining eggs and sauced potato halves. Some of the egg white may not fit, or it might spill out. Try to spoon it back in, because the egg yolk needs a little protection from the intense heat. Broil for 1 to 2 minutes, or just until the whites are opaque and softly set and the yolks are still runny. If some of the egg white has spilled onto the baking sheet, scoop it up and place it back on each portion.
7. Coarsely chop the parsley. Drizzle the remaining oil over each potato portion. Lightly season the eggs with salt and pepper. Top with parsley and serve.