eggs in purgatory, puttanesca-style

If the theme of late here is simple, cozy meals we can assemble even when we’re not, perhaps, having the most well-rested, worry-free weeks ever, we are unquestionably overdue for a conversation about eggs in purgatory, aka Italian-style huevos rancheros/shakshuka. Plus, what could be more appropriately uplifting during Holy Week than a dish that celebrates hell, or the imminent threat of it? What, you say, one that also celebrates the oldest profession? Oh honey, we’re in.

what you'll need
a colorful mince

I first mentioned having cooked eggs in tomato sauce nearly eight years ago on this site; it was a surprisingly excellent fast dinner. About half the commenters said “You just made eggs in purgatory” and the other half said, “You need to make shakshuka.” I went with the latter and have felt little need to err from that glorious recipe for six years now. But poking around on Nigella Lawson’s website the other day, always a wonderful place to find any cooking inspiration that eludes you, the photo with her eggs in purgatory recipe was stop-me-in-my-tracks stunning, and I suddenly needed it in my life very badly.

glurp glurp glurp

I veered slightly, though. Most recipes for uova in purgatorio stress the need for a spicy, kicky tomato sauce, but really, what’s more fiery that alla puttanesca, also known as “whore’s style” sauce? The story goes that this sauce was a specialty of brothels in Naples because it could be made on-the-fly and inexpensively and from this and that in the pantry, and it became a favorite of girls and clients. Some even say that the colors (purple olives, green capers, red sauce) reflected the those that the girls wore. There are other origin stories, but this is the one that has the most staying power. I cannot imagine why.

eggs in purgatory, puttanesca-style

Together these make an absolutely perfect quick dinner, for one or many. You heat a colorful rubble of oregano, olives, capers, anchovies, garlic, pepper flakes and parsley in olive oil the bottom of a small skillet, add tomatoes and let them glurp away for a few minutes before plopping in an egg or four. Before you know it, the whites are set and a little lacy in the flames of sauce, the centers runny and intact, and you’ve mastered another 15-minute meal. And if that wasn’t triumphant enough, you get to scoop it onto toast.

eggs in purgatory, puttanesca-style

One year ago: Baked Eggs with Chickpeas and Yogurt
Two years ago: Sizzling Chicken Fajitas
Three years ago: Chocolate Hazelnut Macaroon Tart
Four years ago: Soft Eggs with Buttery Herb Gruyere Toasts
Five years ago: Oat and Maple Syrup Scones
Six years ago: Spinach and Chickpeas
Seven years ago: Penne with Potatoes and Rocket
Eight years ago: Pasta with Cauliflower Walnuts and Feta
Nine years ago: Skillet Irish Soda Bread

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Oat and Wheat Sandwich Bread
1.5 Years Ago: Sunken Apple Honey Cake
2.5 Years Ago: Fudgy Chocolate Sheet Cake
3.5 Years Ago: Homemade Wheat Thins
4.5 Years Ago: Roasted Tomato Soup with Broiled Cheddar

Eggs in Purgatory, Puttanesca-Style
Inspired by Nigella Lawson, sauce riffed from Ellie Krieger


  • I went back and forth over calling the anchovy optional because I know they’re divisive (and also out of the question for vegetarians). Let me make It clear: it is. Not because you can make authentic puttanesca without them, but because if you’re in your own kitchen, cooking for yourself and not, say, an Italian cooking school textbook, and they’re not your thing, you should feel confident that if you skip them, this sauce will still have an abundance of salty zing. Me, I’ve come around to them, but if I hadn’t a tin already open from a recent Caesar bender, I wouldn’t run back to the store on a Monday night to make this. This food is about convenience and comfort; all that matters is that you pull that off.
  • We had this with a side of roasted cauliflower and I thoroughly enjoyed dabbing sauce on the florets, wondering if this should be a thing. And just like that, I was catching up on Rachel Roddy’s excellent columns in The Guardian last night and she’s already on it. This is a great option for someone who doesn’t eat eggs.
  • You could very easily amp up the vegetable component with 1 cup of thinly sliced mushrooms, sauteed for a couple minutes in the beginning with the olives and other ingredients, or with 1 cup of spinach, arugula or another leafy green of your choice, added right before the egg(s) and cooked until wilted (1 minute for spinach or arugula, longer for heartier leaves).
  • If you’re making this as a puttanesca to go over pasta, you’ll want to double the flavorful stuff. This is slightly milder because it’s eaten straight.

Serves 1 to 4 (for 4 people, it would be 4 smallish one-egg servings)

A glug (1 to 2 tablespoons) olive oil, plus extra to finish
1 to 2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, plus extra for garnish
2 tablespoons pitted black olives
1 tablespoon capers, drained, rinsed
1 anchovy filet, minced, or more to taste, if you prefer a heap of them
1 teaspoon dried oregano or double that of fresh
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or more to taste
1 (14-ounce) can diced or crushed tomatoes
Salt, to taste
1 to 4 large eggs (shown with 1)
1/4 cup grated parmesan or pecorino cheese, plus extra to finish
A slice of bread of your choice, per egg

On a cutting board, pile garlic, 1/4 cup parsley, olives, capers, anchovies (if using), oregano and pepper and run a knife through them again and again until they’re chopped into a tiny rubble. Heat a small-medium skillet over medium heat. Once hot, swirl in a glug of olive oil and let it warm. Add garlic-parsley heap to pan and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add tomatoes carefully because they’re going to splatter like crazy, nd stir to combine. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer sauce for 5 minutes. Taste and add salt or more pepper flakes if needed.

Make a small indentation in the sauce for each egg you’re using, and crack them in. Sprinkle the eggs and sauce with parmesan and cover pan pan partially with a lid. [This is when you should toast your bread; I like to brush mine with olive oil and run it under the broiler.] Let the eggs cook for 5 minutes, after which the whites are usually set and the yolks still loose, but when I use more than 1 to 2 eggs in the pan, this can take longer. Cook another minute or two if needed, but keep a close watch so you don’t accidentally hard cook them.

Drizzle pan with a little extra olive oil, then finish with more pepper, cheese and parsley. Eat with toasted bread.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

New here? You might want to check out the comment guidelines before chiming in.

166 comments on eggs in purgatory, puttanesca-style

    1. deb

      My 6-inch skillet was a little small for 100% of the glurping sauce (it fit, but splattery). A 7-inch or even an equivalent saucepan would be better. An 8-inch would work, but the sauce would be more shallow.

  1. I make your Huevos Rancheros and Shakshuka all the time. I don’t know why I never thought to go Italian. But I might go a step further and make garlic bread to serve this as a messy open-faced sandwich.

    Can’t wait for your next book this fall!

  2. lele


    Your pics make this dish look amazing. I would have never thought to make something like this, but it looks so dang good, I may have to give it a try.

    Btw, I made the carrot salad last night and it was just what I was craving. So simple and tasty.


  3. Shannon Murphy

    Fantastic. Italian shakshuka?!? Of course this exists.

    For the riffers, I’ve always been a fan of making this dish harissa-style, using roasted red peppers in place of about 2/3 of the tomatoes and swapping in the appropriate spices. And now that we’re talking Italian, how great would it be with some ratatouille-style vegetables thrown into the mix? Woah.

  4. Catherine

    Couple typos:

    “splatter like crazy, nd stir go combine.” Assuming you meant and.

    “with parmesan and cover pan pan partially…” One too many pan.

  5. An awful lot of great dishes are made on the fly from ingredients on hand….This sounds really good, but as we just had a lot of eggs yesterday (omelettes with wild asparagus!) I’m going to wait a couple of days before trying it.
    Isn’t it great how changing a couple of flavors (oregano+capers+anchovies=Italian; harissa=Moroccan) you can feel like you’re eating a completely different dish?

  6. Suzanne

    You’ve done it again, Deb! I can’t wait to make this soon.

    Also, I heard you interviewed on Call Your Girlfriend and you sounded just delightful! I loved the way you explained your passions and your evolution of the site.

    Thank you for Smitten Kitchen and all these years in “the biz”. :)

  7. Patricia

    Could you, would you, please do a post about garlic bread? You include it in many recipes as a side with or without some instructions and it is different every time. I know this is a basic, but it would really be great to hear about your different variants.

  8. Sarah

    I often make eggs in puttanesca- and I heartily second Shannon Murphy’s suggestion of ratatouille vegetables- I always add eggplant to bulk up the sauce and give it more veggies.

  9. I’ve heard before that acidic stuff like tomatoes in a cast iron pan can be bad. Have you had any negative effects on your skillets as a result of cooking tomatoes in them? Does washing them promptly after cooking seem to stave off any damage?

  10. Catherine

    Heh, coincidentally I have eggs in tomato sauce on the menu tonight, but I’m destashing some frozen salsa a la veracruzana for a Mexican take.

  11. Sophia

    YAY!!! Love seeing Sclafani tomatoes on here! I know I’ve said it before, but it was my family’s company a long time ago. Makes me happy to see one of my favorite chef’s use them. :) Enjoy in good health!

  12. Kathy Fay

    I have had a cold the last couple of days, and this looked marvelous to me. I was eating it 30 minutes after I read the recipe! I had no black olives, but I did have Greek kalamata olives. Since they are so salty, I left out the anchovies. I think I am cured ;)

  13. Meg

    I discovered your blog about the same time I started dating my then- boyfriend- now just about 8 years ago! Your 2008 eggs in tomato sauce recipe grabbed me- not only because it was visually stunnin, but also beacause most of the ingredients were relatively inexpensive and available to me at the time, and because it was a mostly healthy, delicious, and hearty (protein filled) meal. I have a lot of fond memories of riffing on this dish with different flavors, as I learned more about each culture’s variations, and it’s still a favorite for me and my now-fiance for weeknight dinners and easy saturday lunches at home. There’s a few of your recipes from the blog adn the book that are inextricably linked to poignant moments in my life- this one in particular. With love and thanks! xo

  14. Kimberly

    Deb…you are a life saver…ate a Mexican version of this everyday for 2 weeks on vacation… was trying to figure out how to recreate it….just going to add Cotija cheese, a corn tortilla on the bottom with black beans, and peas…..I can not wait! Muchas Gracias!

  15. Krithika

    I had shakshuka on the menu for this week, and I’m so changing it to this dish.I love the idea of spooning this over some bread or spaghetti. I don’t eat anchovy but I came across a recipe that suggested crushed seaweed to augment an anchovy-free puttanesca. I don’t know if that makes it taste authentic or not (having never tasted anchovies) but I do like the flavor it has.
    Could I refrigerate leftovers and reheat that on the stove gently?

  16. Hannah

    Your pristinely oiled and broiled toast is distracting me from the runny eggs (which is really saying something). Thanks for all the quick-cooking and veg-friendly meals of late…and for pointing out that we don’t all live inside the bounds of a traditional Italian cookbook :)

  17. Katelyn

    I just did a variation of this for lunch, using your recipe, in my Instant Pot! I fried up the olive-parsley mixture in a skillet, then poured it into a loaf pan and mixed in the tomatoes (and some Worcestershire, since I didn’t have any anchovies). Put in the pressure cooker on the trivet, with 1 cup water underneath, and did Manual Low pressure for about 20 minutes. (Uncovered.) It was AMAZING, even though the eggs cooked hard instead of soft like I’d hoped– next time I’ll try 15.

  18. How Nice it’s looking! Just amazing! You’ve done it again, Deb! I can’t wait to make this soon. Also, I heard you interviewed on Call Your Girlfriend and you sounded just delightful! I loved the way you explained your passions and your evolution of the site. Excellent share!

  19. JP

    If you like this, Deb, I would bet dollars to doughnuts that you would love Nigella’s Strapasada (from her newest book Simply Nigella). It is another tomato and egg dish served on toast. So fast and delicious! Thanks for all you do!

  20. S

    Perfect timing, I was reading through right when it was dinner time but I wasn’t feeling my previous dinner plans. And everything for this was already in my home! I used garlic-stuffed olives, added some aleppo pepper, and served with a side of sauteed dinosaur kale.

  21. julie garliano

    Years ago, like 40, I made a dish like this for dinner often. It was from the “Galloping Gourmet” which dates me right there. It was more sautéed onions and bell peppers, some oregano, some crushed tomatoes, and then the eggs and grated cheddar cheese. Quick, easy, and most important, CHEAP! I have been thinking about it lately, sans husband, so thanks for the reminder. It’s time to bring it back, or branch out and try your version.

  22. Anne

    Made this tonight, absolutely delicious. With anchovies but no capers or olives. Added a wee bit of sugar to get rid of acidity of tomatoes. I have a question though – how do you get your tomatoes to actually make a sauce? Mine tend to keep the shape of the little cubes they are cut into.

    1. Helen in CA

      Not Deb, obviously. Next time use the crushed tomatoes. My understanding is that diced canned tomatoes have some citric acid in there somewhere which helps keep them “firm”

    2. deb

      I think that most tomatoes are packed with some citric acid because for safe canning, it needs to be slightly more acidic than most tomatoes naturally are. That said, I agree about the diced tomatoes — I often have time getting them to shake their cubic shape and it’s annoying. Crushed seems to break down better, as Helen says.

  23. Beth

    I want to hug you right now, Deb! We are totally on the same page this month when it comes to delicious, not-too-rich but not-too-spare, simple, easy meals…I just finished my shift as a nurse, it’s 1 AM, and I really wish I could make this RIGHT NOW.

  24. SVF

    Just want you to know that your photo of this dish makes Nigella’s look amateurish in comparison. I want to eat the screen! And I don’t even like tomatoes, capers, olives, or unbroken egg yokes.

  25. Josef 23 – the acidic quality of tomatoes does affect the pan’s surface but if you give it a good wipe after shouldn’t be too bad. The good thing is that it adds beneficial iron to your dish! I cook EVERYTHING in our cast iron pans. If you have to reseason your pan once in awhile that is no biggy. Now I’m going to whoop this up for my sweetie and I.

  26. Paula

    Hi Deb
    First thank you for so many wonderful and “do-able” recipes. My question is concerning the anchovies. I do not have them readily available in my pantry, but I do have fish sauce. I remember from seeing you and others at the Y speaking on the genius recipes that Michael Ruhlman said something about “adding fish sauce to everything you cook”. I’ve been guilty of doing that when I feel some of my dishes need an extra depth or zip. Do you think I can substitute fish sauce for the anchovies? Or do you think the anchovies are the thing to go with to make it an authentic puttanesca. Thanks. Best, Paula

  27. Caitlin

    This is gorgeous! We host a weekly dinner on Wednesdays and I was dreading making dinner tonight. I think I’ll make this with some garlic toast. Thank you for the timely inspiration. :)

  28. Mindy

    Deb-I do make a similar, though milder, sauce with cauliflower and basil (no eggs but with other additions depending on my mood and what I have in the fridge/pantry) inspired by Mollie Katzen’s recipe. I love the added olives but haven’t tried it with anchovies but will try your recipe. My family adores any shakshuka-type dinner, with the eggs as well. Thanks for this one!

  29. Sarah

    I made this for dinner last night and it was amazing. Your shakshuka recipe is another one of my favorites and it’s my go-to potluck dish. No matter what I do, though, the eggs always turn out hard cooked- the whites finish cooking at the same time as the yolks! Any suggestions?

  30. deb

    Tricks for getting the eggs cooked just right — I agree, this is always a struggle. I find going a TINY bit under on the whites can help. They’re going to keep cooking in that sauce, which you can also spoon over any parts of the white that might be under to help them finish off the heat. I did that this time and had 100% success with cooked whites (no translucence, which I cannot handle, bleh) and 90% loose yolks.

    Paula — I remember that conversation clearly! You can add any flavor you’d like here, even fish sauce for zip. Is it authentic? No. That doesn’t need to be your goal, however. Like I said in the headnotes, we’re not writing a textbook but cooking for ourselves. I’m sure it could be great here.

    Kate — Absolutely. I often see artichokes in puttanesca recipes.

    Anne — Diced aren’t my favorite for that reason, but you can always mash them a bit in the pot with a potato masher or give them a one-second whirl with an immersion blender to break down their shapes a little.

    JP — Just looked it up and it looks AMAZING. Maybe this summer. Or tomorrow. :)

    Btw — A couple people (thank you) have mentioned the Call Your Girlfriend podcast from the journalist Ann Friedman. I was a guest last week. It was fun. You can hear it here:

  31. Amy

    My Sicilian grandmother would make this every Friday during Lent but I had no idea what it was called. Thanks for naming it for me!

  32. Linda

    But Nigella’s photo is nowhere as tempting as yours!
    (Ducks as a swarm of Nigella fans throws cans of tomatoes)

    Although….why is there a teapot in the second photo?

  33. Susan

    Thank you for the cauliflower idea. Not much of an egg eater and def not a runny egg eater at all!

    Re: the anchovies; I have made my peace with them and use them now, but I used to use Kalamata olives as the replacement. In a Cesare Salad, I’d leave them out of the dressing and add the olives to the salad itself. In other applications, I’d crush one into the mixture; just enough to get the briny flavor into the mix and sometimes remove the pulp, sometimes not. Worked for me, anyway!

    Loved your phone conversation/interview so thanks for linking it. Especially liked the conversation about attribution of a recipe. I appreciate you including attribution because I always go to your source recipe to help me understand a little about your taste and how you direct a recipe into something new. I’ve learned to use many recipes as guide for taking them in a direction that would suit my taste. Even some of yours ;)

  34. Rebecca

    Hi Deb ~ this dish (along with Shakshuka) always sounds go darn good, but. . I don’t like the whole runny egg thing. Anyway to make this with scrambled egg?

  35. J

    Made this last night and it was delicious! Followed the recipe (without the anchovies, I’m a vegetarian) and doubled it like you mentioned since we ate it over pasta. New weeknight staple! Thanks!

  36. Sarah

    Oh. My. Days. I just made this for dinner (2 eggs each, with garlic bread). This will definitely be going into regular rotation for us. I added the mushrooms and spinach you suggested to make it a little heartier. My husband’s only complaint? You should have put chorizo in it! May leave out the pepper flakes and do just that next time….

  37. Kate

    Alas, Purgatory no longer exists, apparently. But when it did, it wasn’t the threat of Hell. It was just the Great Waiting Room in the Sky, where you went until people had prayed enough for your soul to get you called in to the pearly gates.

    (I imagine a celestial Greyhound Bus Station late on the eve of Thanksgiving in a snowstorm. The bus is late, so late. The only things in the vending machines are diet root beer and mesquite Fritos. The only thing to read is Reader’s Digest, with Humor in Uniform and any crossword type entertainment ripped out. It’s a long wait.)

    Given all THAT, this dish would be a miracle of comfort and joy, really. On top of being tasty I mean.

  38. Shawn

    Made this last night with 16 eggs for our large family and served it over steamed zucchini noodles. So, so, so good. We’d never eaten eggs cooked in tomato sauce before – what a delicious idea! We are dairy and gluten free right now, and this meal completely fit the bill and was satisfying.

  39. Andrea

    Yes to all of your add on suggestions! I’ve been making this dish in some variation at least once a week this year, as I’m trying to cut back on carbs (bleah). The leafy greens are great, as are diced mushrooms or diced zucchini.

    I just bought my first jar of capers ever, but hadn’t thought to add them to this – I’ll have to give it a go!

  40. Ali Allen

    Oh you gave me a good laugh in that first paragraph! Haha!
    The dish looks divine, especially with that tasty looking piece of garlic bread :)

  41. Stephanie

    Read this Tuesday afternoon. Made it in 15 minutes Tuesday night after the gym. Perfection. (Except for having to share it with my husband… “What smells so good? Can I have a little? Sheesh.)

  42. Rebekah

    Another miracle dinner, Deb. This and your avocado toast have saved my butt twice this week.
    I tweaked it based on my pantry – no cheese and no parsley, added some leftover meatballs (also your recipe) with the eggs. Magical dinner.

  43. Jen

    This sounds great. I really like the idea of Shakshuka, but it never turns out as good as I think it should. Olives, anchovies and capers sound like just what I need.
    And I hope this isn’t too off topic, but Italy + purgatory brought back some really happy memories: when I went to Italy in collage, the old farmhouse I stayed in had the internal doors decorated by some local teenage artists. The two bedroom doors depicted the entrances to heaven and hell, respectively. Purgatory? That was the bathroom door. It was perfect: blue skies, a rainbow, and an island rising up out of the sea crowned with a “throne.” I really wish I could afford to go back. I swear pizza just tastes better when you’re in a tiny, 400 year old farming village in the mountains of Italy.

  44. Thanks so much for all of your great recipes. For over a year now, I’ve been having problems with my appetite that make it really difficult to find recipes that sound appealing which has been disappointing since I used to have such a passion for cooking. I found your blog recently and everything looks so good! It sounds melodramatic, but it really means a lot :)

  45. Thank you for this! Perfect timing. My boyfriend and I just got back from a long wedding weekend with nothing in the fridge. This recipe was absolutely perfect, as I had everything I needed in my pantry. This has now been added as a weekly staple!

  46. Steph

    OMG Deb. This blew my mind. I’ve made it 3 times since you posted it! I took your advice and bumped up the veg factor with some spinach. The 3rd time I made it, I couldn’t help myself and added some quartered artichoke hearts. A+

    Thank you so much for sharing this delicious and super easy recipe. I’ve been following you for years and am continually impressed by the simple beauty of your food.

  47. Lenora

    Hi Deb! I made this today and added the mushrooms and greens as you suggested. It was yummy! Of course, the garlic bread was the final, wonderful touch. Thanks for another great recipe! I am going to try the Shakshuka next.

  48. Anne B.

    Now we’re talking – this looks amazing! I wonder how left over mashed potatoes might go with this instead of bread? Thanks Deb! Another winner I’m sure. Will be making very soon!

  49. I just made this earlier this week and it was AMAZING!!!! Lived up to the expectations and while mine didn’t look as pretty as in these pictures, I wasn’t mad at the flavor at all!

    Love your quote that it’s for when you’re not “having the most well-rested, worry-free weeks ever”….so that means I’ll be having this every week then.


  50. Sabine Apitz

    Delicious. We cooked this last night. Thought I had anchovies but didn’t (the kids clear out my fridge when I’m on long business trips). We added two tins of tomatoes and a bit more of everything, then cooked 5 eggs in it. Took a much longer for the whites to set, but it as DELICIOUS. My husband, an understated Brit, has been using superlatives to describe it. The Boy ate it up, got up and toasted more bread, and wiped the bowl. This will become a staple. Thanks!

  51. Fay

    This looks ridiculously yummy! I think I need to make it ASAP! Topped off with a nice thick slice of fresh sourdough is just a win win! Your recipes are amazing :)

  52. I just made this for dinner tonight. I’ve made eggs in (my own homegrown because I’m just that cool) tomato sauce before, but the addition of the rubbly bits made it so much better! I was hesitant about the capers, but they added just the right zest. And I’m all for anchovies, so it was great to find another application for them. This was a tasty dinner for one that I will definitely make again. And again. I am so grateful that you share your love for food with us all. I think I’d better put just one more egg in that delicious leftover sauce right now…

  53. Arkama

    Thanks for this great recipe! I’ve been reading your blog for a little while (I really appreciate your great writing skills!) but some of your recipes seems a bit daunting for an inexperienced cook like me. This is therefore the first SmittenKitchen recipe I’ve made thus far, and it was a success according to all eaters ;)

  54. I happened to go to the index page, which I don’t often do, and noticed that a couple of the recent posts start with remarks about sleeplessness and worry. So this is just to say that I hope everything’s all right. (And thanks for this recipe, it’s amazing.)

  55. I have been reading this blog for while now and I really love how your present your recipes. You’re a bit of role model for me. In regard to this recipe, I’m ok with anchovies. I kind of like the flavors they bring out as an ingredient. However, my husband is not. I’m going to try it and see if he notices, because sometimes he totally doesn’t realize what ingredients I have used.

  56. amanda

    Deb, what’s going on in that jar of Sicilian oregano, still on its little stems? I have Rancho Gordo’s Mexican oregano and find that it definitely has a different flavor…what’s the Sicilian like and where did you acquire it?

  57. Wow, looks yummy and tasty. I’ll try it tonight. Hope I could find all the ingredients in the groceries. As you mentioned anchovy is optional, so on my first try I’ll stick with it first. Thanks.

  58. Karen

    OMG. The parsley, olive, garlic, caper “rubble” hit the olive oil in the pan and I about swooned. Perfect dinner this Easter evening. I made it without anchovy because I couldn’t justify getting some for just this recipe but next time I will. And then I’ll just have to make this again and again to use it up. ;) Loved it. Thank you!

  59. Adrianne Collins

    This is similar to my favorite Turkish dish, menemen. That one has spicy peppers. Can’t wait to try with olives and capers. With menemen you can scramble the egg while you cook it, or “poach” it like shown here. I saw someone asking about scrambled eggs with this one, and I would think it would work well – just drop the egg in and mix it up. Will not be as saucy – the eggs will be mixed all in – but I’ve done it before and it still is delicious!

  60. Linda

    Hi…….just noticed that you haven’t posted or replied to any comments for a while (well, okay, five days, but that’s *long* for you).
    Hope everything’s okay!

  61. deb

    amanda — I also have Mexican oregano from RG and I’m sure someone will blast me for this but I don’t find that it tastes enormously different from Sicilian. To me what’s key is that they both taste much better than the usual spice aisle jarred stuff. This is indeed still on the branches; I could only find this massive bundle of it last time I bought it, way more than any human being needs and it’s also kind of a pain to have to de-twig each time I use it. I bought it at Buon Italia in Chelsea Market.

    Rob — Thanks, now fixed.

    Sue — Cooking tomatoes in cast iron isn’t highly recommended (or recommended at all) but if you’re living on the edge, as I did, and more seriously trust that your pan is very well-seasoned, a quick simmer of tomato sauce isn’t going to ruin the finish. But, in general, I do avoid it.

    Gretchen, re, skipping olives — Just skip them. Normally I’d say replace them with capers or something else briny, but they’re already here.

    Linda, re, teapot — What? Huh? (Me just now.) OOOOH! That’s an olive oil carafe. Started using it recently. Frees me to buy the 5-gallon jugs of better stuff at better prices, without having to lug it to the stove. I have this one; I wished I’d bought the larger.

    Linda — Thank you, and big apologies. It’s been a very busy few weeks Chez Perelman (more below), but nothing too
    terrible. Hope to be more alert and responsive this week. Playing catchup on all missed comment this AM. More to come. :)

    Maryn — Thank you. I hate the way I sound when I complain, and the result is that I have been unintentionally vague here about an exhausting month. In short, or as short as possible, it was just a bunch of things in a row: My husband was sick, then my son, then I got what seems to be my yearly bout with Strep, then the baby got a cute little 8-month sleep regression, then cold, and then a cough, and then the cough was so scary it sounded like she couldn’t breathe (of course we are just paranoid parents and all was fine) and then the baby seemed better and then she suddenly was the very opposite (two perforated eardrums) and then she was on antibiotics that didn’t seem to be working (she was still sick all week) so we changed medicines and the new one worked but gave her a rash and then (of course) my son got sick again too, and also the babysitter (very little working for me) and now everyone seemed to be back at, say, 95% and the baby seems to have a new cold today. More relevant here, I am furiously at work on the next book, it needs to be done in the next couple months (I am also really excited about these new recipes and dying to show you guys, so there’s that), and we’re working on a redesign that (at last) is about 1 month from ready (biiiiig project) and then some other employment changes in the works and whew. It’s quite busy. I think I’ve got a pretty good life so please don’t think I’m whining/complaining. But I won’t complain if someone wants to send me on a vacation. :)

  62. Basia

    I really should wait to comment after I make this but it looks delicious. I make your shakshuka recipe all the time when the tomatoes are in season. I use homemade hawaj in place of the cumin but the rest of the recipe is from Smitten Kitchen. I can’t wait to try this recipe. Eggs and tomato sauce, heavenly combination. Oh, I also add zoug to the shakshuka, have you ever tired that? It complements the tomato sauce so nicely.

  63. Noemi

    I made this last night for 3 adults and one toddler. I doubled the recipe to feed us all, but it was still not quite enough for dinner. I would definitely try this over pasta to make for a heartier meal. Serving size aside (maybe we just have big appetites?), the taste was great! I would definitely make this again, with the addition of pasta, but I do prefer your shakshuka recipe for a heartier meal. Thanks for sharing this!

  64. Jessie

    I make a similar sauce with some thin onion half-moons added in with the olives, and then I tuck in pieces of fish to poach them in the sauce instead of eggs. I call it a Vera Cruz sauce, that’s what we called it at the restaurant where I used to work. Seriously, so good and awesome for a crowd.

  65. Helen

    So sorry your whole family AND the babysitter have been ill. Here’s hoping everyone will be fine now that nicer weather is on the way.

  66. Linda

    I’m glad everything’s all right ^^

    Bravo for still actually “taking care of” us in the midst of, er, all that. (Does that sound pretentious???)

    (Then starts a rant on how Amazon is a crook in Europe.) I’ll keep an eye out, though!

  67. Made this last night for my anti-veg meat-centic husband …and he ATE IT UP, even agreeing I could make it again!!!

    I used the bigger can of crushed maters (28oz?), so upped all the rubble too. Carmelized mushrooms up front for a little more heft. The eggs were straight from the farm (as in, I had to rinse the poo off fresh). I forgot to add the baby spinach BEFORE the eggs, so dumped the sauce/eggs over individual bowls of spinach, so we got some wilting but not as much as I would have liked.

    Not as much leftover sauce as I expected – we just kept Scooping and Shoveling into our pieholes!!

  68. Yum this looks delicious. I’m putting this on the menu for next week. Easy and tasty is my kind of cooking at the moment with new twins in the house. Thanks for the recipe :)

  69. Lydia

    I loved this! I doubled the recipe last night, poaching 3 eggs at a time and fishing them out afterwards. I could have kept poaching eggs forever, but we ran out of eggs, so the I tossed the rest of the sauce together with a can of chickpeas to go with bread & spinach for lunch. I’ll definitely be making it again!

  70. Shelly

    Perfection !! But I forgot the parmesan which made me sad for a teeny tiny bit of time. I roasted cauliflower steaks to go with it, so good and I have enough left over for my work lunch tomorrow. My colleague at work put me onto this recipe, we both follow your blog and now I see that CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corp.) has a Facebook site that highlights your recipes on a regular basis.

  71. Sarah

    Made this last night for dinner and it was really delicious – left out the anchovies and the shop had no parsley but was still fantastic and would definitely make again. Planning also to use the sauce for pasta dishes.

  72. Todd

    Not a regular commentor, but I finally got around to making this and loved it. The thing I loved most was the texture of the eggs. The best word I could use to describe it is richer than a poached eggs otherwise. Almost custard-like. Is there a reason for this, or should I just be thankful you pointed me in this direction?

  73. Chichi

    Have made this twice in two weeks for DH and me. A taster, quick dinner that satisfies the tummy and soul.

    I’m passing the recipe on to my 89 year old brother-in-law across the country. He’s been living alone and cooking (first time in his life for both!) for himself for about 6 months. He’s adventurous and thriving on all the new experiences and challenges.

    Thank you for this dish. It is so flavorful and adaptable.

  74. Sarah

    I have been a little afraid of anchovies in the past but would really love to remedy that and encouraged to do so after reading Jeffrey Steingarten’s The Man Who Ate Everything. Any chance you could recommend ones to get started with? It seems to me there is a huge variance in quality and taste. Any help you could offer would be so very much appreciated.

  75. LaLa

    We had this amazing dish over pasta instead of with toast and it was one of my favorite meals of late. I told our dinner guest the story of it being a “whore’s dish.” His response…

    “Ah. Pastatute.” Ha!

    Thanks Deb, as always.

  76. Brittany

    I made this last night (sans anchovies) and it was so delicious! It was a great quick weeknight meal and my husband loved it as much as I did. We can’t wait to make this again :)

  77. EmKal

    So good! Cooked four eggs for 9 minutes — probably a minute too long. But still delicious. Will definitely make again for a weeknight dinner.

  78. Becksa

    I just saw a picture of shakshuka over at serious eats and all of a sudden remembered a dream I had a week or so ago. In this dream I was at a friend’s house and they had made your eggs in purgatory recipe for a small group of us, but the eggs for some dream-reason could not cook all the way in the skillet, so we each had to scoop out our one egg along with sauce into a little single-serving cauldron type dish where it would finish off. I don’t even think the cauldrons were heated, but the eggs finished cooking in them somehow. And it was delicious and I was so mad that my friend had made the recipe that I wanted to try before me! Long story short, I think my subconscious self was trying to tell me to make this dish ASAP.

  79. Angie

    I love Nigella’s eggs in purgatory and your shakshuka recipe is a favorite dinner at my house. Can’t wait to try this new riff on the recipe – puttanesca is my favorite pasta dish.

  80. Susan

    Adding this to the category of ‘food to cook when I have a cold’ – simple enough that I could make it through the directions while my head is full of goo and full of the warm salty garlicky goodness that my sinuses were craving. Another awesome dinner!

  81. Elana Olson

    Wow! This dish is amazing. Every time I make it, we devour it and crave the next time we can eat it again!

    The only tip I can offer is to drain the tomatoes of their liquid, as to keep the sauce thick and to add about 2 tablespoons of red wine to the sauce. This recipe is a keeper!

  82. girlfarmer2

    This dish looks amazing, I wish my husband liked dishes like this. It gets old cooking meat and potatoes all the time. I just can’t get him to eat much of anything else especially vegetables and salad. Oh well, I’ll just have to make it for one and eat it myself.

  83. Emilia

    I’ve made this twice in 24 hours! Love it! I tripled the amount of anchovies I made the first time, and would even go ahead and add more. The second time, I added baby spinach in with the parsley mixture. Doesn’t alter the flavor a whole lot, but adds some iron-y goodness, and I was very pleased with it.

  84. Sophia F.

    I’ve made this multiple times and my entire family loves it, including my 3- and 1-year-olds. One tip: I find the parmesan makes it really difficult to see when your eggs are cooked to your liking, as the white melting cheese obscures both undercooked whites and overcooking yolks. If you’re cooking more than two eggs, or are otherwise uncertain about the timing, it’s easier to leave off the parmesan until the end.

  85. ROFL My very straight laced Quaker Grandmother either had a deep dark secret or she preferred to ignore this tale of this recipes Origins. She used to make this in her restaurant when I was a child. I have had a mild version of this once or twice in recent years at restaurants but it didn’t have the kick hers did. So I added a few peppers and yep tasted like hers

  86. JudyP

    For ME, the capers (and maybe too, the anchovies) are what makes it especially good. Without them, to ME, it is ordinary spaghetti sauce. I ADORE capers, could eat them with a spoon, straight from the jar.

  87. I’ve been making my own version of this for years, but I never knew it was called this. I called it something more along the lines of “The Best Dang Way To Use Leftover Pasta Sauce That Exists”. Now I know, and my life is better.

  88. lpayne

    i have made this dish exactly as written, and adored it.

    tonight, tho, i came home riddled with PMS and exhaustion and made a very easy version.

    disclaimer: in no way did i actually make *Deb’s* recipe; i used it as the jumping off point for a quick dinner and wanted to share with y’all:

    i had a jar of putanesca with olives, and eggs, but no bread!

    but i did have some shelf stable gnocchi, and fresh asparagus.

    i added some water, white wine, and crushed red peppers to the jar of sauce and made the eggs in it, as described in Deb’s amazing recipe. i served it on top of the cooked gnocchi and steamed fresh asparagus.

    i usually have a can of anchovies in the cabinet – i was just feeling extremely lazy. next time i’ll add them.

    it was fantastic!

    and bc asparagus doesn’t really require any processing prior to cooking, and i steamed it over the gnocchi water, the cleanup was super simple. i highly recommend this for a super quick but delicious dinner.

  89. M. Payton

    I made this and it was fabulous and yet a bit time consuming for me, so the next time I used Rao pasta sauce with the rest of the ingredients except the tomatoes…..I also put in very small tiny piece of sausage when cooking then last the eggs……out of this world dish now…..either way it is a wonderful meal anytime and this I can say honestly, I just love this dish period!

  90. M. Payton

    I just love this dish and now I put it over polenta all the time, makes my heart sing when I eat this. Only other difference is I double the garlic as I love garlic even eating it whole and raw at times.


    This was the perfect dish. Thank you again for an outstanding recipe. I am eating low carb and I served it over roasted cauliflower. It was a delicious Friday in Lent dinner!! Thank you Deb.

  92. Eliza

    LOVE! I made this for Mother’s Day brunch. So simple, so delicious! I skipped the parsley, forgot the oregano and used just a cup of my own roasted romas with a few scallions on top for garnish. It was simply perfection. Thanks for another great recipe. Happy Mother’s Day!

  93. CJ

    I’ve wanted to try this recipe for years, and tonight the planets must have aligned or something because I didn’t know what to make for dinner and I actually had all the ingredients (well, anchovy paste, but close enough) plus a new delivery of fresh eggs from my neighbor’s chickens. I was enthused, my husband was dubious at best and said he would cook himself a frozen pizza. But the smell of the rubbly bits got to him, he made toast while I watched the eggs. It turned out delicious, I was thrilled (but not surprised) and he ate it with enthusiasm and pronounced it “very good”. Another win for me, for which I thank you Deb.

  94. littlemousling

    I imagine it’s really far too late to ask a question about this delightful recipe, but just in case: I’ve made it twice, and both times the eggs took ages to cook—like solidly twenty minutes. My sauce is hot enough to bubble and spit, I use a lid—I have no idea what could be going wrong, but I definitely don’t want to eat still-transparent egg whites! Any thoughts on what might be going wrong? Thank you!

    1. Tricia

      Try covering the pan? Keeping the steam in the pan should help the whites to set faster. 20 minutes is a very long time to poach eggs so it sounds like maybe the sauce is very low in the pan and not helping cook everything as fast as it could. So a smaller pan that makes a deeper sauce to cook the eggs in seems like another approach to try. I poach eggs in a little sauce all the time, with a lid on the pan. 5-7 minutes is usually long enough to set the white and the yolk (at sea level), if I want a runny yolk 3-5 minutes should be enough – and the whites are fully set in either case.

  95. Justin

    I want to cook this…and I want to use cast iron…in your experience does tomato ALWAYS strip the seasoning off cast iron? No matter how carefully and long I season cast iron, if I ever let tomato sauce touch it, BOOM, it’s down to grey steel again. Am I the only one?

    1. deb

      No, I don’t think any single tomato sauce recipe, fairly quickly cooked, can wreck a seasoned pan. I find this guide helpful. If my pan looks dry after I use it, I put a thin coat of a high-heat oil in it (very, very thin), heat the pan on high for one full minute (until smoking, almost) and let it cool completely. Wipe out whatever oil is leftover. It’s a quickie re-seasoning technique.

  96. Puttanesca with eggs, uhh YUM! I almost always have all these ingredients handy and do prefer to use an ancovy paste because it’s so easy to keep a tube at the ready. Funny you use a glug as measurement for the oil, exactly how I learned to cook sauces in Italy, 1 glug, 2 glug :-) and a handful of this or that. You have the best recipes. :-)

  97. Marisa

    LOVE this recipe! How could I, an Italian-Canadian, not know about this dish!?!
    I could eat it everyday especially in the hot summertime when one doesn’t feel like cooking. Thanks Deb!
    PS I didn’t use anchovies because I didn’t have.

  98. Tammy

    Made a variation of this tonight and really enjoyed it! We love shakahuka, but the olive/caper/herb/pepper flavors here were a nice change from that. I added shredded carrots, finely diced onion/red bell pepper, and spinach to the sauce to amp up the veggie content. I ran out of crushed red pepper, so supplemented with Aleppo pepper, which was perfect here. Served with bread and roasted cauliflower, it turned out to be a chunky, spicy, delicious vegetarian dinner.

  99. JoAnn Lieberman

    Story I heard re: puttanesca was that the salty, spicy food made the johns thirsty and the house made more money from the bar than from the whores

  100. Amy

    We have shakshuka for breakfast almost once a week! We always look forward to it, and are so glad to have discovered it! Can’t wait to try your version, even though our old stand-by will never get boring, lol.

  101. Mairzi

    What a great, easy dinner for our Meatless Monday on a snowy winter day. I followed the directions fairly closely except increased the quantities to satisfy my giant men. Because of increased amounts, it took much longer for the eggs to cook.

  102. Molly

    Question about the tomato amount. The recipe shows a single 14oz can should feed 4 people. It definitely is more like 2 1/2 people ( or maybe that’s just my family haha). In the photo it’s a 28oz can shown. Should the recipe be for 28oz? Thanks!

  103. p.a.

    The link for ‘one year ago’ says ‘baked eggs in chickpeas and yogurt’ (?) but the recipe it’s linked to is the more imaginable ‘baked chickpeas with pita and yogurt’.

  104. Robin

    Have I ever commented on this before? It is my absolute favorite dish to cook at home. So amazing for any meal. 10/10 Wouldn’t change a thing.

  105. I recently tried the Eggs in Purgatory Puttanesca Style recipe from and it was delicious! The flavors of the puttanesca sauce were bold and the runny yolks of the eggs added a nice touch to the dish. The recipe was easy to follow and the result was a delicious and comforting meal. I highly recommend giving this recipe a try, it’s perfect for a weeknight dinner or a brunch. If you’re looking for more delicious and easy to make recipes, check out my blog quick low carb dinner recipes