To brunch, or not to brunch

Eggs in Purgatory

For some it’s a regular weekend ritual but I’ve never been much of a bruncher. Usually because I’m running around catching up on errands after the gym and the timing just seems so inconvenient! But every once in a while, it is a nice treat to hit the brakes – and a delicious excuse to have a cocktail before noon (you can’t go wrong with a tequila Caesar). There’s something especially inviting about brunch dishes combining eggs, carbs and maybe a little something fried too for good measure.

I’ve been getting into this saucy egg number lately, known as Eggs in Purgatory. You could think of this as the Italian version of the more popular Middle Eastern shakshuka, scented with cumin and paprika. Lightly poached eggs coddled in a spicy tomato sauce flavoured with fresh basil and parsley, it’s quick to pull together and the perfect way to start the weekend off on the right foot. No need to relegate this as strictly weekend fare though – it’s also great for an easy one-pot weeknighter.

TIP: I added chick peas to the tomato sauce for a protein boost, which also helps thicken the sauce a bit as they cook down.

Serves 4


  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Italian parsley
  • 2 tbsp basil
  • 1 x 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup canned chick peas
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • big pinch red chili flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 eggs


  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add shallots and sauté until lightly golden and translucent. Add garlic and cook for a few minutes more.
  2. Add canned tomatoes with about ½ of the can full of water and stir in the parsley, basil, chili flakes, chick peas and tomato paste
  3. Season with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil then reduce to a low heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.
  4. By this point the tomatoes will have broken down a bit and the mixture turned a slightly darker shade of red. With the back of a spoon make 4 small wells in the mixture to crack an egg into each one
  5. Cover the skillet and let the eggs cook for about 10 minutes. The whites should be set and the yolk with a slight wiggle when you give the pan a shake.
  6. To serve, spoon an egg and a generous spoonful of the sauce into bowl with a few pieces of toasted baguette – perfect for dunking


Lightly golden sautéed shallots and garlic. Any darker than this and the garlic will turn bitter
 Humble beginnings: diced canned tomatoes with fresh basil and Italian flat leaf parsley.
Chick peas add a boost of protein and make this a heartier dish
20 minutes of simmering later, the finished sauce with mellowed acidity and mild chili heat
Poaching eggs directly in the sauce. Cover the pan and simmer for about 10 minutes over medium hear, or bake in the oven for about 5 minutes at 350° F
Serve 1 – 2 eggs per person with fresh baguette for dunking