The origin of a dish is something always fascinates me a lot, especially when the dish belongs the tradition.
Every town, region and sometimes even country is ready to claim the paternity of a certain dish, sometimes only trusting a legend or an uncertain historical document. In these cases, the only sure thing is that a specific dish is delicious in different places.
One of these foods wrapped in a mistery are ‘uova con il pomodoro’, eggs with tomato sauce. Here in Italy many people state that they are of Tuscan origin. Paolo Petroni, the author of Il grande libro della vera cucina toscana speaks about two Tuscan versions: Ciancifricola, prepared around Siena and made by whisking eggs in the tomato sauce, and Calzimperio, typical in Versilia, where eggs are kept whole (as in fried eggs).
But, I have to say, that I didn’t discover uova con il pomodoro when I moved to Tuscany. I ate many times this dish as a child and as a grown-up, since my mother used to prepare a version similar to the Senese one, creatively called in my family Paperina (the origin of the name is unknown), a dish prepared also in many homes of Lombardy and known with the less attractive name, uova strapazzate con il pomodoro, scrambled eggs with tomato sauce.
Yet, if you go in Southern Italy, you will discover this dish also in Campania – uova in purgatorio – and in many other Southern regions where they usually add also some peppers to the tomato sauce.
In the last few years, when I discovered Yotam Ottolenghi, the famous chef and cookbook author, I discovered also Shakshuka, the Tunisian dish made of eggs and tomatoes which became very popular in Israel. There are many version of this dish, but it is usually prepared with peppers (as in Sourthern Italy) and it is eaten for breafkast.
Whatever is the origin of this dish, it is perfect for this period of the year, between summer and autumn. Now you can still find ripe and tasty tomatoes, which, combined with eggs, make a great comfort food. It’s a no-frills dish, simple both in the ingredients and in the cooking method, and so hearty, you will feel better immediately at the first bite.
Just take a piece of bread, dip it in the liquid yolk, help yourself with a fork and take some egg white, which has marbled the tomato sauce during cooking. Taste. Repeat. Until you get to the final scarpetta, the best bite ever, which consists of the Italian ritual of mopping up the last of the sauce on the plate.
Are you hungry now? Here it is my version of uova con il pomodoro.
UOVA CON IL POMODORO – EGGS WITH TOMATO SAUCE
Ingredients for two people:
600 g ripe tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
extra virgin olive oil
3 or 4 eggs
1.Wash the tomatoes, and cut a cross on them. Blanch them in boiling water for about one or two minutes. Drain them and plunge the tomatoes in a bowl with water and ice. Now you can easily remove the skin.
2.Slightly crush the garlic cloves under your palm (or with a knife), put them in a wide pan with low borders and add some evoo and chili. After a couple of minutes add the peeled tomatoes, you have previously crushed with your hands (or if you prefer, cut them into pieces).
3.Cook over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes, or until the tomato water will dry and the sauce will be thicker; season with salt.
4.When the tomato sauce is ready, add the eggs, trying to be quick, but being careful not to break the yolks. With a fork move the egg whites a bit in the sauce and cover with a lid.
5.Cook gently over low heat for about 6-8 minutes, until the egg white will be firm but the yolk still liquid.
6.Season the eggs with salt and pepper and serve immediately together with some fresh bread.
This post is also available in: Italian