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.
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.
About This Eggs in Purgatory Recipe
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 it super satisfying: 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.
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!
As 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.
As it turns out, like so many ancient dishes that are spread over many cultures, the history of this recipe 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.
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.
How to Store and Reheat This Recipe
- 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.
Recommended Tools to Make This Recipe
Eggs in Purgatory | Italian Style
- 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 Phil’s Fresh 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.
- 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.
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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.