Eggs in Purgatory | Italian Style

The first time I had cooked eggs in tomato sauce, 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, Italian Style, I might want two.

Italian Baked Eggs in Purgatory – Eggs baked in garlic tomato sauce with chickpeas, spinach, Parmesan, and fresh basil. Cheap, easy, and healthy! Also called eggs in purgatory or shakshuka, it’s a crowd pleasing recipe that’s perfect for brunch and quick dinners. Recipe at wellplated.com | @wellplated

This post is sponsored by Phil’s Fresh Eggs.

Baked Eggs in Purgatory go by many names and boast many adaptations. Essentially eggs that 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 assorted 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 that there’s no need to eat out (or bug your friend) to try them.

Eggs in Purgatory, Italian style – Easy, budget friendly, and filling! Eggs baked in a zesty tomato sauce with chickpeas, spinach, basil, and Parmesan. Recipe at wellplated.com | @wellplated

Eggs in Purgatory is a loose term for a dish that goes by many names with many variations. The popular, spicy Middle Eastern version, shakshuka, often calls for peppers, sweet paprika, and cumin (it’s delicious), while huevos rancheros might be considered the Mexican version of Eggs in Purgatory.

I’m calling my version Eggs in Purgatory, Italian Style. The 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 the Eggs in Purgatory super satisfying: chickpeas.

An Italian version of Eggs in Purgatory, made with chickpeas, basil, Parmesan, and a garlic tomato sauce. Recipe at wellplated.com | @wellplated

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 the Eggs in Purgatory extra filling for a tiny price tag.

Last, we can’t have Eggs in Purgatory, Italian Style, without the recipe’s namesake ingredient: eggs! I’m using Phil’s Fresh Eggs, which come from chickens that are raised on Phil’s original family farm. Phil’s has been raising cage-free chickens since the late 1950s before it was cool, because Phil, the company’s founder, thought it was the right thing to do. Now, as a consumer, I feel like cage-free eggs are the right thing to buy. Just look at that sunny yolk!

Easy Italian Eggs in Purgatory. Simple, healthy, gluten free, and DELICIOUS! Recipe at wellplated.com | @wellplatedAs I was reflecting on the different elements of Eggs in Purgatory that I love—it’s easy to make, richly flavored, healthy, AND budget-friendly—it occurred to me that they deserve a more flattering name. Ten seconds later, I’d typed “eggs in purgatory history” into my browser. Twenty seconds later, I was clicking from wiki page to wiki page, looking for the origin of the dish.

Italian Baked Eggs in Purgatory with chickpeas, spinach, fresh basil, and Parmesan. Simple and healthy! Recipe at wellplated.com | @wellplated

As it turns out, like so many ancient dishes that are spread over many cultures, the history of Eggs in Purgatory is rather 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.

I’m not sure why anyone would want that sort of thing represented in a meal, but if it’s how Eggs in Purgatory came to be, I’ll take it. We are all the better for having this recipe in our lives, no matter its origin.

Italian Baked Eggs in Purgatory – Eggs simmered in a garlic tomato sauce with chickpeas, spinach, basil, and Parmesan. Easy, healthy, budget-friendly, and DELICIOUS! Recipe at wellplated.com | @wellplated

Feel free to debate. If you need me, I’ll be over here with my mystery-history Eggs in Purgatory, Italian Style, and a great big piece of baguette.

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Eggs in Purgatory | Italian Style

An easy Italian version of Baked Eggs in Purgatory—Eggs baked in garlic tomato sauce with chickpeas, Parmesan, and fresh basil. Simple, filling, and healthy!

Yield: 2–3 servings

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can reduced-sodium chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (24-ounce) jar good-quality tomato pasta sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 5 ounces baby spinach
  • 4 large Phil’s Fresh Eggs
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Chopped fresh basil
  • Baguette slices, for serving

Directions:

  1. Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  • Eggs in Purgatory are best enjoyed right away. You could refrigerate extra tomato and chickpea sauce for up to 3 days, then rewarm it and serve it with a freshly cooked egg.
All images and text ©/Well Plated.

Nutrition Information

Serving Size: 1 (of 3), without baguette

  • Amount Per Serving:
  • Calories: 437 Calories
  • Total Fat: 21g
  • Saturated Fat: 5g
  • Cholesterol: 263mg
  • Sodium: 2051mg
  • Carbohydrates: 47g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Sugar: 24g
  • Protein: 45g

Did you try this recipe? I want to see! Follow Well Plated on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag it #wellplated. I love to know what you are making!

I am sharing this post in partnership with Phil’s Fresh Eggs. As always, all opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands and companies that make it possible for me to continue creating quality content for you. To learn more about Phil’s, you can visit its company website and Facebook page.

This post contains some affiliate links, which means that I make a small commission off items you purchase at no additional cost to you.

About Erin Clarke

I’m fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food taste incredible. Wearer of plaid, travel enthusiast, and firmly convinced that sweets and veggies both deserve a place at the table. MORE ABOUT ERIN…

12 comments

  1. I have a thing for Italian food, and I LOVE finding different uses for pasta sauce! My favorite is Dave’s Organic Red Heirloom, which would be literal perfection in this. Thanks for the recipe! :)

  2. This looks so yummy! Do you have to bake this dish in the oven? or you think it could finish cooking on the stove top? We don’t have an oven right now..

    • Hi Stephanie! I’ve never made this any other way besides baking it in the oven, but I think that would work fine! Once the eggs are cracked into the sauce, I’d cover the pan to help the eggs cook, then let the sauce simmer gently, until the eggs are cooked to your liking.

  3. Now that is something I would love to wake up to in the morning (:

  4. Being 1/4, third generation Italian, I love my Italian food! Can’t wait to give this a go. :)

  5. Thank you so much for this beauty made of simple available ingredients !

  6. Made this for dinner last night.  It came out great  in a cast iron frying pan.  Big hit with hub who had leftovers for lunch today.

    Rating: 5

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