Mar 3, 2020

Creamy Italian Eggs in Purgatory

Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr
The flavorful tomato-based recipe is similar to Middle Eastern Shakshuka which is served with egg-based Challah for dipping.

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This variation of the Southern Italian breakfast dish “eggs in purgatory”, a dish which arguably gets its name from the similarity of the bubbling tomato sauce to the depiction of the fiery flames of the underworld in Dante’s Inferno. The flavorful tomato-based recipe is similar to Middle Eastern Shakshuka which is served with egg-based Challah for dipping.

This version of the classic one-pan meal is combined with Italian white beans and a bit of yogurt for a rich and creamy twist, just begging to be scooped up with butter-fried crusty bread. I could go through a whole loaf to myself in one sitting!

Creamy Italian Eggs in Purgatory with Shallow-fried Mozzarella Bread

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Cannellini beans – Cannellini beans, also known as white navy beans, are used in Italian recipes. They can be used interchangeably with great northern beans. I love using them for their smooth, slightly nutty texture. While I soak dried beans in this recipe they can be substituted with canned beans for a shortcut.
  • Canned diced tomatoes – Canned tomatoes are versatile and are used to create the sauce for this eggs in purgatory dish. They are picked when ripe then cooked and peeled before they are diced then canned and packed in tomato juice or tomato puree.
  • Eggs – The eggs are cracked into the sauce and beans and left to cook in the sauce until the egg whites are just set and the yolks are still runny.
dozen eggs

How to Make Creamy Italian Eggs in Purgatory

  1. Soak the beans. Soak the cannellini beans overnight. Drain and set aside.
  2. Sauté shallots. Heat a large oven-safe skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and heat through. Add the shallot and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Make the tomato and bean sauce. Add the tomatoes, beans, basil, red pepper flakes, ¼ cup of the Parmesan cheese and 1 cup of water. Simmer until the beans are tender and the tomatoes break down, about 45 minutes. Add more water, ¼ cup at a time if the sauce thickens too much, it should be the consistency of tomato sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper then stir in the yogurt.
  4. Add the eggs. Return the pan to medium-low heat. Using a wooden spoon, make 6 holes in the tomato sauce in the pan. Crack the eggs into each of the holes, cover the pan and continue to cook until the eggs are set, about 3 minutes.
  5. Fry the bread. Heat a large non-stick sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil and heat through then add the butter and allow to melt. Arrange the slices of bread in the pan, frying until the bread is golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes. Flip and top with mozzarella cheese, and cover the pan, cooking until the cheese melts, about an additional 2 minutes. Work in batches if necessary.
  6. Serve. To serve, ladle the eggs and tomato sauce into bowls and garnish with basil leaves. Serve with the fried bread for dipping.

Tips and Tricks for This Recipe

  • While the sauce takes a bit of time to come together (which can be overwhelming in the morning before breakfast – and coffee), the sauce can be made ahead of time and reheated just before adding the eggs. 
  • If time is tight the dried beans can be substituted for 1 (15-ounce) can of cannellini beans.
Creamy Italian Eggs in Purgatory with Shallow-fried Mozzarella Bread

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:

Creamy Italian Eggs in Purgatory with Shallow-fried cheesy Mozzarella Bread

Creamy Italian Eggs in Purgatory

Print Pin
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the tomato sauce:

  • ½ cup dried white cannellini beans (or a 15-ounce can of canned white beans)
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, diced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons diced basil
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper, as needed
  • ½ cup plain full-fat yogurt

For serving:

  • 6 eggs
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Crusty Italian bread, cut into 1” slices
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • Basil leaves, for garnish

Instructions:

For the tomato sauce:

  • Soak the cannellini beans overnight. Drain and set aside.
  • Heat a large oven-safe skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and heat through. Add the shallot and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, beans, basil, red pepper flakes, ¼ cup of the Parmesan cheese and 1 cup of water. Simmer until the beans are tender and the tomatoes break down, about 45 minutes. Add more water, ¼ cup at a time if the sauce thickens too much, it should be the consistency of tomato sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper then stir in the yogurt.

For serving:

  • Return the pan to medium-low heat. Using a wooden spoon, make 6 holes in the tomato sauce in the pan. Crack the eggs into each of the holes, cover the pan and continue to cook until the eggs are set, about 3 minutes.
  • Heat a large non-stick sauté pan over medium-low heat. Add the olive oil and heat through then add the butter and allow to melt. Arrange the slices of bread in the pan, frying until the bread is golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes. Flip and top with mozzarella cheese, and cover the pan, cooking until the cheese melts, about an additional 2 minutes. Work in batches if necessary.
  • To serve, ladle the eggs and tomato sauce into bowls and garnish with basil leaves. Serve with the fried bread for dipping.

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