Perfectly soft-cooked eggs swimming in an insanely delicious tomato-based sauce infused with garlic and herbs, Eggs in Purgatory is the healthy, one-pan meal you never knew you needed in your life.
The first time I had eggs in Purgatory, I was eating them off of a friend’s plate at brunch.
If you eat out with me, be warned: I will want a bite, and if your dish is half as delicious as these eggs in Purgatory, I might want two.
Prior to that, I had never tried eggs cooked in tomato sauce before. However, after just one bite, I was converted into an instant superfan and they’ve been in my brunch recipe rotation ever since.
5 Star Review
“Love this recipe! Very easy and very tasty!”— Nancy —
What is Eggs in Purgatory?
Baked eggs in Purgatory goes by many names and boasts many adaptations.
Essentially it’s a dish where eggs are poached in a thick, robust tomato sauce, then generously smeared over or dipped with torn pieces of toast or baguette.
They are the epitome of effortless-to-make meets ethereal-to-eat.
I’ve seen countless versions of eggs in Purgatory on brunch menus everywhere from New York City to San Francisco, but it’s so easy and affordable to make at home, there’s really no need to eat them out at a swanky restaurant.
About Eggs in Purgatory
Eggs in Purgatory originated in the Naples region of Italy. Known as uova in purgatorio in Italy, has been around for generations.
(If you love Italian food, be sure to check my full collection of Italian recipes!)
Across cultures, variations of eggs in Purgatory exist.
- Shakshuka, for instance, is a popular, spicy Middle Eastern version of this dish, although shakshuka and eggs in Purgatory are not exactly the same.
- Shakshuka differs from eggs in Purgatory primarily through its addition of peppers, sweet paprika, and cumin to the tomato sauce base.
The Origin of the Name “Eggs in Purgatory”
As it turns out, like so many ancient dishes that are spread over many cultures, why it’s called “eggs in Purgatory” is unknown.
The most interesting explanation I found is that the name originates from the Catholic faith, with the baked eggs representing “souls” and the tomato sauce surrounding them representing “Purgatory,” the big idea being that the souls are suspended between heaven and hell.
How to Make Eggs in Purgatory
This recipe uses good-quality store-bought pasta sauce for the tomato base, which is both delicious and a major timesaver. You’ll also find plenty of garlic, fresh basil, Parmesan, and a special addition to make it super satisfying: chickpeas.
- Tomato Pasta Sauce. Because the tomato sauce is such a prominent part of this recipe, it’s important to choose a high-quality option for best results.
- Chickpeas. While chickpeas aren’t 100% traditional for eggs in Purgatory, I now can’t imagine the recipe without them. They add a pleasant texture, work well with Italian flavors, and make it extra filling for a tiny price tag.
- Eggs. While I love a good, healthy egg-white frittata, I also can’t say no to a perfectly poached egg with a beautiful runny yolk. So delish!
- Baby Spinach. I’m always looking for ways to add some green to every dish. I love the added nutrition and color a bit of spinach gives this dish.
- Parmesan Cheese. Adds just the right about of salty, cheesy flavor and richness.
- Garlic and Onion. I’m always amazed how much a little sautéed fresh garlic and onion can jazz up a jar of store-bought tomato pasta sauce.
- Red Pepper Flakes. Feel free to adjust the amount to suit your personal taste preferences.
- Baguette. Make sure to have a few slices of your favorite crusty bread on hand to soak up every last drop of the tasty sauce. This Rosemary Olive Oil Bread would be scrumptious!
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
- Sauté the onion and garlic and then stir in the garlic, chickpeas, tomato sauce, oregano, salt, red pepper flakes, and spinach.
- Make four indentations in the sauce and crack an egg into each. Then sprinkle with cheese.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove, garnish with basil and serve warm with baguettes.
- To Store. This dish is best enjoyed right away, but you could refrigerate extra tomato and chickpea sauce for up to 3 days.
- To Reheat. Rewarm the recipe and serve it with a freshly cooked egg.
- To Freeze. I don’t recommend freezing raw or poached eggs. However, the sauce can be frozen for up to 3 months for later use.
Meal Prep Tip
Make the sauce ahead and store it in your fridge or freezer. Then bake as directed using fresh eggs and parmesan when you’re ready to enjoy.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- I love using my favorite cast-iron skillet (this is another excellent and budget-friendly option) when making eggs in purgatory
- A non-slip cutting board is always helpful when chopping a lot of ingredients.
- A good-quality, sharp knife is among the most important tools to have in your kitchen arsenal.
Eggs in Purgatory
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small red onion diced (about 1 cup)
- 3 cloves garlic minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 can reduced-sodium chickpeas (15 ounces), rinsed and drained
- 1 jar good-quality tomato pasta sauce (24 ounces)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 5 ounces baby spinach
- 4 large eggs
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- Chopped fresh basil
- Baguette slices for serving
- Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Heat the olive oil in a large, ovenproof, nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the chickpeas, tomato sauce, oregano, salt, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer and let cook until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the spinach a few handfuls at a time, letting it wilt. With the back of a spoon, make 4 indentations in the sauce. Crack one egg inside of each, then sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the whole dish.
- Carefully transfer the pan to the oven. Bake until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still soft, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with fresh basil. Serve hot with baguette slices.
- This dish is best enjoyed right away, but you could refrigerate extra tomato and chickpea sauce for up to 3 days.
- The sauce can also be frozen for up to 3 months for later use.
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