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Eggs in Purgatory

Quarantine got you feeling like you’re in your own version of purgatory? This Italian breakfast or late night snack is a comfort food favorite and oh-so-easy to make!

I have been making a version of this dish for years and always referred to it as Shakshouka. Shakshouka being eggs cooked in a spicy tomato sauce with Middle Eastern flavors of cumin, paprika, and harissa. With a little digging I realized I had been making the Napoleon version of this dish called Uova in Purgatorio or Eggs in Purgatory. Both versions are great but I prefer the Italian one and find it’s easy to use an already Italian seasoned leftover pasta sauce to make this. One of my favorite things about Italian cooking is the ingenuity of using what you have and not sweating the small stuff when making a dish. Wanna add capers or sprinkle with crispy breadcrumbs? Do it! Don’t eat dairy or want to use Parmesan instead of goat cheese? Do it! This dish is perfect after an evening of drinking or a morning hangover cure-all if you’re having “that kind” of quarantine. This recipe is great for two but multiplies like a dream. Simply use a larger skillet, a bit more sauce, or drop in a few more eggs depending on your needs. If you’re a maverick just heat up some tomato sauce in a skillet, drop a few eggs in the pan, top with a lid, and cook for a few minutes until the egg whites set. Really it’s that simple. If you need a little hand holding and recipe romance I’m here for you with all the steps to success below. Ciao!

Yield: Serves 2


  • 3 Tbsp olive oil plus additional for drizzling
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp chili crisp or a sprinkle of red pepper flake
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups tomato sauce (leftover is great if you have it)
  • 1/4 cup whole milk ricotta
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese or feta
  • 4 eggs
  • kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, as needed
  • 1 Tbsp fresh torn herbs, I used parsley and basil
  • crusty bread for dipping


  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Place an 8″ oven proof skillet over medium heat and warm olive oil.
  3. Add garlic and sauté for 2 minutes until fragrant.
  4. Add chili crisp or flakes and tomato paste and sauté for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  5. Carefully add tomato sauce and turn burner to low heat. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Spoon little drops of ricotta into the sauce and sprinkle with goat cheese. Don’t stir.
  7. Cracks eggs directly into the sauce spacing evenly apart.
  8. Drizzle the dish with additional olive oil.
  9. Now you can finish the dish two ways. Either place a lid over the sauce and cook on low until the egg whites are set and the yolks are cooked to your liking. This steams the dish and is the most traditional cooking method taking about 5 minutes to complete. Or you can use the oven method which I prefer.
  10. If using the oven method turn off your burner and place the uncovered pan into the preheated oven. Cook for 5-8 minutes until the egg whites are set and the yolks are still very runny. Remove from oven.
  11. Remember that the eggs will experience carry-over cooking meaning they’ll continue to cook in a hot pan. Stop cooking just before you’d consider the eggs done to account for that.
  12. Top the dish with fresh herbs and an extra pinch of flakey salt.
  13. Serve with crusty pieces of bread. Focaccia is great with this! You can spoon servings into bowls but I prefer to dip bread directly into the pan.
  14. Enjoy!

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