Eggs in Purgatory

IMG_1999It’s been a long, crazy summer for us, and I am finally getting back to posting. Actually, I’m finally getting back to cooking, which means I finally have something (anything) to post!!! I feel as though I am emerging from a period of great darkness, into a beautiful sunshine-y day. So, cheers to new beginnings, great friends and daily miracles. Speaking of miracles, this has been an amazing summer for tomatoes in North Carolina. We’ve had plenty of rain (but not too much), lots of sun and warm (but not scorching) temperatures. Tomatoes are rocking our world this summer!

If you check the popular lists of superfoods out on the internet, you may not find tomatoes on the list, but they should definitely be there. Chock full of vitamins and lycopene, tomatoes are little powerhouses. What is lycopene? Lycopene is an antioxidant in the carotenoid family and may help protect the body from prostate and breast cancers as well as protect the blood vessels around the heart. While lycopene can be taken in pill form, it is most highly effective when eaten in cooked tomatoes. Cooking tomatoes breaks down the plant fiber and releases lycopene in a form more easily absorbed by the body.

This dish is pure, summer simpleness, although it does involve turning on the stove–not my favorite thing in the hot summer–but it is worth heating up the kitchen a bit. The tomatoes, zucchini and onions are stewed down until very thick, then topped with eggs, covered and simmered until the eggs are done to your liking. Voila! Totally good for you, with a bit of protein and a hit of spicy.

This version is a takeoff of an Italian breakfast dish and the “purgatory” in this case comes from red pepper flakes and sriracha chili sauce. This combination of tomato and eggs, however, has variations in Middle Eastern, Jewish and Chinese cooking as well, so it has been around (and loved) for a very long time. We had this for supper and it was delicious. You could add other vegetables as you like and experiment with new combinations that work for you! I want to try this with some freshly roasted red sweet peppers for more of a smoky flavor!

Eggs in Purgatory (serves 2-3)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3 small, fresh zucchini, washed and diced
  • 2 pounds fresh tomatoes, washed, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha chili sauce or harrisa (optional)
  • 4-6 fresh farm eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh basil, to taste
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan or mozzarella cheese
  • Fresh ciabatta or other good quality bread
  1. In a large, deep saute pan or non-cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the chopped onion and saute for about 5-6 minutes or until onions begin to soften.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the tomatoes to the pan, stir well, and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes. Check on the tomatoes frequently. If they are scorching, turn the heat down to medium low and continue to simmer.
  5. Add the diced zucchini, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Stir well and simmer for about 15-25 minutes or until most of the liquid from the pan has evaporated. This could take longer depending on the heat of your stove, your pan, and the amount of water in the tomatoes.
  6. Drizzle the tomato mixture with the sriracha, add chopped, fresh basil and stir.
  7. When the mixture is very thick, use a spoon to make 4-6 small nests in the tomatoes. Crack one egg into each nest, cover the pan and simmer until the eggs are cooked to your liking.
  8. Check for seasonings and serve immediately topped with cheese and with warm bread on the side for dunking!


%d bloggers like this: