Shaking up spring

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The fledgling bird fixes her eyes on the horizon, draws a beakful of air and jumps.

The fledgling girl fixes her eyes on the horizon, draws a deep breath and sighs. So many speed bumps. Waiting nearly 16 years, enduring 30 hours of classroom drivers' education and skimming an entire booklet of road rules. Before braving the motor vehicle administration.

Here she will be tested: One hour standing in line. Two hours slumped in the loud lounge. Three minutes clicking through questions. Landing her back in limbo. Finally: smile, snap, sign. And grin. She pockets her permit.

Perched behind the wheel, she peers at her toes, then presses them against the accelerator. She edges across the empty parking lot, confronts a lamp post and, following etiquette, yields the right of way. She stops the car, glides down the window and breathes.

The air smells damp and green. It's spring, time for the pale fava bean popped from its pod, time for the tender egg cracked from its shell. Time for the fledgling to flex her wings and — within the limits of the law and under the supervision of a licensed adult driver — to fly.

Spring shakshouka

Note: Shakshouka, which means (more or less) "shaken," can be as simple as eggs poached in tomato sauce. It's a popular quick meal in Israel, where it was imported by Tunisians. This version shakes up fresh spring flavors.

Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Servings: 2

1 fat artichoke
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 cup shredded zucchini
3/4 cup fava beans, blanched and shelled (in a pinch, sub fresh or frozen baby limas)
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons harissa*
2 eggs
Crusty bread

Slice away the prickly top half of the artichoke. Trim stem to 1 inch. Peel away dark green leaves, exposing light green leaves. Use a vegetable peeler to smooth away bumps and peel the stem. Cut artichoke in half. Scrape out the fuzzy choke. Cut each half into 4 (oddly shaped) crescents.

Heat oil in a medium (10-inch) skillet set over medium heat. Add artichokes and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, turning once until beautifully browned, about 4 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium-low; stir in garlic, mint and parsley. Cover and cook 1 minute. Stir in zucchini, beans, water, lemon juice and harissa; cover and cook until vegetables are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 20 minutes.

Scoop 2 wells into the vegetables. Crack 1 egg into each. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook, about 5 minutes for whites that are set and yolks that are not.

Scoop onto plates and serve with bread. Enjoy.

*The spicy North African tomato and pepper condiment can often be found next to the hummus.

Leah Eskin is a Tribune Newspapers special contributor. Email her at

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