Eggs in Purgatory

Eggs in Purgatory

Serves 4 – 6

8 large eggs, right from the fridge

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

1 28-ounce can good-quality diced tomatoes (I like Muir Glen)

2 small cloves of garlic, finely minced

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Salt and freshly-ground black pepper.

4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into small pieces

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

6 – 8 pieces toasted crusty bread

If you have a bunch of small dishes, it’s easier to crack the eggs into separate dishes before you start — that way you can pour them into place instead of getting your hands near the hot sauce trying to open the shell.  If you’re pro at opening eggs, though, don’t worry.

Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet until it shimmers.  Add the red pepper flakes plus some salt and pepper and cook for minute.  Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, then pour in the tomatoes.  Stir everything up, bring to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Keep the sauce simmering.

Using a ladle, make 8 depressions in the sauce and gently pour an opened egg in each little nest.  Tuck the mozzarella pieces around the eggs, and then top each egg with a pinch of pepper and some Parmesan cheese.  Put the lid on the pan for two minutes, then remove it and continue to cook the eggs until the whites are set, about 3 more minutes.  Drizzle with extra olive oil, then dish out to shallow bowls.  Serve with the bread, or put the bread pieces in the bowl and put the eggs and sauce on top.

Variations:  stir in 1/2 cup roasted red pepper strips that you’ve rinsed and dried with a paper towel a couple of minutes before you add the egg.  Or stir in 1 to 2 cups of leftover cooked pasta.  For a sausage add-in, brown 4 links of breakfast sausage in the oil.  When the sausages are browned, remove them to cool on a plate for a couple of minutes and proceed with the sauce by cooking the red pepper and garlic.  When you add the tomatoes, slice up the sausages and add them to the pan with the sauce to cook.

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