With every thing going on in the country these recent days, we have been seeking easy and delicious comfort food. Eggs in Purgatory (Uova in Purgatoria) is something I remember my dad making when I was a young girl.
I know the name is funny and maybe some of you know this dish by other names. It all comes down to the eggs representing the "souls" that are looking for purification and are in purgatory, signified by the surrounding tomato sauce. Sometimes the sauce is made very spicy, and that may represent something besides purgatory.
A little history on this simple and delicious egg dish from Italy. Uova in Purgatorio is called Ova ‘mpriatorio in Neapolitan (Napoletano), or Eggs in Purgatory. In Sicily they have uova cunzati and I know some add peas to the sauce.
Did I mention how simple this is to put together? You could prepare the sauce the day before or you could do what I did and make it in less than 20 minutes. Once the sauce is ready, you spread it out over a baking pan and crack your eggs over the sauce. Cook them until the whites set around the golden yolks. The yolks should be runny for you to do "la scarpetta", that's Italian for scooping up the sauce with bread. You could make bruschetta or you could make toast. For a brunch with a little of every thing, you could even serve your eggs in purgatory with bagels. Well, at least that's what we did! We made a dozen eggs in purgatory for a brunch we were having and served it family style right from the baking sheet and we also had fresh bagels from our favorite local bagel shop and smoked salmon. It was quite a tasty and relaxing feast with some of our dearest friends from Italy.
You could enjoy poached eggs in tomato sauce any time of the day. It is a dish that easily goes from breafast/brunch to a really satisfying and easy to make dinner. I love this dish because it is so comforting and so accessible any day of the week. You may be like me and have all the ingredients ready to make this dish any day of the week. Eggs, tomato sauce, onions and fresh herbs are always to be found in my little cucina. How perfect and wonderful to be able to open the cabinets and grab eggs from the refrigerator and not even have to go to the market. I remember my dad making this dish when I was just starting college and it was one of the first dishes he taught me to make. With the temperatures dropping even here in sunny Florida, it is the perfect weekend morning breakfast to cozy up to. And if you are making this for brunch, all you do is put it in the oven when your guests arrive and it is ready in minutes. I like my yolk more cooked, so some in the photo were perfect for me. We also made it minus the yolk for a friend that is watching his cholesterol. We had lots of kids having brunch with us when we made it, so it was not a spicy dish that day. But these eggs are wonderful when you add some crushed red pepper to the tomato sauce!
Some Eggs in Purgatory recipe notes:
- Serve with toast, bruschetta or even bagels if you are making this for brunch.
- The recipe below calls for cooking the eggs directly in the tomato sauce. If you need to cook some of the eggs more, you could cook in a pan and then add to the sauce with the rest of the eggs. Poached eggs may even be made ahead and rewarmed to serve with this dish.
- If you are making it just for two or four, you could make it on top of the stove in a cast iron skillet following the recipe and using less sauce and eggs. If you are cooking on stove, let the eggs cook in the sauce simmering on medium-low until the whites are set.
- This recipe is made with a sauce that isn't spicy. Spice the sauce up with crushed red pepper to your liking.
- We didn't use all the sauce, as it would be too much to fit on a baking sheet. The leftover sauce is nice to use for another recipe during the week.
- To save time, you could make the sauce the day before.