Eggs in purgatory (aka uova in purgatorio) are Italian baked eggs in tomato sauce perfect for enjoying as a hearty yet healthy breakfast/brunch or even lunch! All you need for these Italian eggs is a handful of healthy ingredients and one pan for a low-calorie, gluten-free, budget-friendly, meat-free meal.
Finely chop the onion and mince the garlic. If you're using one, then finely chop the chili at the same time, remove the ribs and seeds.
Step 2: Sauté the ingredients
Head up the oil in a large pan. Add the onion and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until translucent (2-3 minutes). Add the garlic, stir and cook for a further minute.
Add the tomatoes and cook either on the stovetop or in the oven (make sure to use an oven-safe pan) until the tomatoes become tender.I added the tomatoes whole, which takes a bit longer to cook. Alternatively, you can finely chop/mash them before adding them to the pan. I baked them in the oven at 420ºF/215ºC for about 15-20 minutes.
Once roasted/cooked, the whole tomatoes will have released all their juice and will be easily mashable with a potato masher or just a large fork. I also remove the skins at this point (optional).
Add the salt, pepper, chili, and a few basil leaves and stir. Allow the sauce to thicken and reduce, until it's thick enough to create slight "wells" within the sauce.
Step 3: Add the eggs
To add the eggs you can optionally create shallow wells for them to sit within or simply crack the eggs over the dish. Some people like to first crack the eggs into a bowl or spoon and then slowly lower them into the dish, but I usually crack them directly into the pan.
Transfer the skillet back to the oven and bake until your eggs are done to your preferred level. I like my whites cooked through and yolks soft.If you're having issues getting the eggs to cook to your desired level, you can pan-fry the eggs separately and add them to the pan when cooked. You could also cook the dish on the stovetop over low heat, with a lid, until the egg whites are cooked through.
Once ready, top the dish with a little parmesan and some extra fresh basil and serve! Optionally drizzle with a little additional olive oil when serving.My favorite way to enjoy eggs in purgatory is with bread: crusty bread, naan, pita, soft pretzel, simit, or even served over a bagel – you can't go wrong!
How to Store?
Make ahead: you can prepare the tomato sauce up to a day in advance and store it in the fridge until you're ready to reheat, add the eggs, and finish cooking. You can also freeze the sauce for up to 3 months. I recommend doing so in portions so you can thaw just the right amount each time you crave this dish.Store: while this dish tastes best fresh, the leftover tomato sauce will last up to three days in an airtight container in the fridge.Either way, when storing, I recommend only doing so with the sauce and not the eggs.Reheat: reheat the tomato sauce with a splash of water on the stovetop until simmering and then add the eggs and either bake or cover and cook until ready – then top with cheese and herbs and enjoy! Feel free to add a little salt and pepper to the top of the eggs.
Using the best pan: I recommend using a pan that isn't too large when making this dish. Otherwise, the sauce texture will be impacted, and you run the risk of burning the sauce/losing too much liquid. I used one that's slightly larger than I usually would since I roasted the tomatoes whole (which will help retain the moisture). If you're using pre-chopped/crushed tomatoes, though, use a pan that just about holds all the tomatoes when raw (it will cook down before the eggs are added).
Using the leftover sauce: any leftover sauce can be used for another round of these Italian baked eggs OR as a simple sauce for pasta! I often like to use leftovers to make a "single-serve" portion by adding the sauce to a small ramekin, topped with 1-2 eggs, bake (or Air Fry) for around 10 minutes (or until the egg white is fully cooked) then top with cheese and herbs.
For the quickest version: use chopped rather than whole tomatoes on the pan, that way they will soften and reduce at the same time. When baking the tomatoes whole, you then need to mash them and further reduce the sauce before you can add the eggs.
Cooking the eggs: if you're worried about getting the eggs "just right" (fully cooked eggs but runny yolks), you can always pan-fry or even poach eggs separately then add them to the sauce when ready.
Adjust the heat: the sauce is very adaptable. Omit the chili entirely or adjust the amount of spice to personal preference.
Optional add-ins and Variations:
Other tomatoes: to add extra depth to the tomato flavor you can add in additional tomato products like a little tomato puree or sun-dried tomatoes.
Anchovies: these are a traditional addition so feel free to add some if you like the taste. I recommend 2-3 anchovy fillets, finely chopped. The dish won't taste super fishy but will have extra salty elements to it.
Capers: alternatively, to keep this dish vegetarian, you could add some capers for a salty, tangy flavor addition.
Herbs/Spices: there are several options to choose from including adding a little paprika, dried oregano, Italian seasoning, etc.
Vegetables: peas are a common addition. Other veggies (like red/green peppers, corn, eggplant, zucchini, spinach/kale, olives, etc.) would also work but the dish will start becoming closer to my previously shared shakshuka recipe).
Cheese: feel free to swap out the parmesan for another cheese like crumbled feta or creamy burrata/mozzarella.
Pesto: add a swirl of fresh homemade Italian pesto to this dish to pack in tons of extra flavor.
Vegan eggs in purgatory: you can make a similar dish, substituting the eggs for scrambled tofu and top with vegan cheese. You could also skip the egg entirely and use chickpeas instead!
Breadcrumbs: I'm not sure how "classic" this is but sprinkling some breadcrumbs over the top of the Italian baked eggs helps to add extra texture. Especially if broiled for a minute or so.
Lemon: you can serve the eggs in purgatory with wedges of lemon. The juice really brightens up the dish even more!