Breakfast and Brunch, Eggs, Gluten-free

Uova in Purgatorio (Eggs in Purgatory)

Nicoletta September 4, 2016

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Uova in Purgatorio: a classic way to savor the tomato harvest with this traditional, timeless, Italian dish. Poached eggs in a rich, sweet, fresh Roma tomato sauce, flavored with extra virgin olive oil, garlic, onion, basil, salt and pepper. 

Uova in Purgatorio

[This post is sponsored by the Italian Center Shop. We’ve been compensated but all opinions are our own.]

I hope you enjoy when we share with you some of our favorite, traditional, Italian recipes. The recipe for Uova in Purgatorio, Eggs in Purgatory, is timeless and you can find it mostly in Naples and surrounding area, but it is also popular in the center-southern Italian regions. Like the majority of old, peasant, Italian dishes, its simplicity goes hand in hand with a rich taste and a high nutritional value, even though it uses few “poor” ingredients.



To find an explanation on the name of the dish: Uova in Purgatorio, Eggs in Purgatory, we have to go to Naples, and stroll along the alleys of the old town, where you can find many shrines dedicated to various Saints, and in almost all of them there is a corner dedicated to the souls in Purgatory. They are depicted by white figures wrapped in flames. The white of the eggs in the red sauce would want to represent the souls escaping from the flames. There you have it 🙂 .

A simple, quick, dish to make, that uses just few ingredients. But of course, when you use few ingredients, pay attention to the freshness and quality: eggs, tomatoes, basil, olive oil, have to be of the best quality. We used free run organic eggs, fresh Roma tomatoes, cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, basil, garlic, onion from my in-law’s garden, salt, pepper (and a pinch of chili flakes, always a welcomed addition in Italian dishes). Some recipes call for just onion, some for just garlic, some for both, and that was our choice, a little bit of both: onion for some sweetness, garlic for some punch. You can use canned tomatoes, when tomato season is over, but we love when we can use seasonal ingredients, when their flavor is at a peak.

Uova in PurgatorioUova in Purgatorio

Uova in Purgatorio, Eggs in Purgatory, are a tasty idea, suitable for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.

It depends on your preferences (or where you live. In Italy they are considered a lunch or dinner option, but definitely not a breakfast possibility).

We had them for dinner, in one of our “easy and quick vs. rich and tasty” weeknight meal. It was a lazy night, when all we wanted was something that combined the least effort with the maximum comfort. It goes something like this: wash and dice the tomatoes, grab a frying pan or a cast iron pan, pour 2-3 tablespoons of that golden jewel that is e.v.o. oil (we like to splurge on that 😉 ), sautée the garlic and chopped onion with the pinch of chili flakes (peperoncino), add the diced tomatoes and the basil leaves. Cook for few minutes, until reduced a bit to a tomato sauce, then season with salt and pepper to your taste. With a wooden spoon, make wells in the sauce to house the eggs. Crack the eggs into the wells and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cover and cook the eggs until done to your liking. I like mine more on the well done side, while Loreto likes his more on the runnier side. Guess who won 🙂 . The best part is when you finally taste it: scoop the eggs with some tomato sauce onto a plate and serve with a crusty rustic bread, toasted or not. The eggs might be in Purgatory, but sure you’ll be in Heaven 🙂 .Uova in PurgatorioUova in Purgatorio


Song of the day: “Stairway to Heaven “, Led Zeppelin. 

Uova in Purgatorio

Uova in Purgatorio (Eggs in Purgatory)

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes


  • 4 organic, free run eggs
  • 8 ripe Roma tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 whole garlic cloves
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • pinch of chili flakes (optional)
  • 4 fresh basil leaves
  • Salt & pepper to taste


  1. Wash and dice tomatoes.
  2. Drizzle olive oil in a cast iron pan and bring to medium heat.
  3. Add garlic, chopped onion, and chili flakes if you want it a bit spicy, and let infuse into the oil.
  4. Toss in diced tomatoes and basil leaves.
  5. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Cook for about 12 minutes or until reduced to tomato sauce.
  7. With a wooden spoon, make four wells in the sauce to house the eggs.
  8. Crack eggs into wells.
  9. Season eggs with salt and pepper.
  10. Cover and cook eggs for 3 minutes (soft) or until done to your liking.
  11. Scoop eggs with some tomato sauce onto a plate and serve with a crusty rustic bread, toasted or warmed your favorite way.


  • Serving Size: 4 servings
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Uova in Purgatorio

P.S. While you’re reading this post, we’ll be on a plane, or just landed, or already on our well deserved Italian Holiday. Don’t worry, we cooked and baked full throttle before leaving so we wouldn’t leave you without new recipes. Plus, there will be updates on our vacation on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.

[This post is sponsored by the Italian Center Shop. We’ve been compensated but all opinions are our own.]

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  • Avatar
    Reply Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop September 6, 2016 at 5:48 am

    Lovely, simple, comfort food! These are the best kind of dishes that make you feel good inside and out!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta September 6, 2016 at 10:32 am

      Thanks Kathy, you’re absolutely right about these kind of dishes. They do make you feel good! Thanks for stopping by and leaving your nice comment.

  • Avatar
    Reply Carol Borchardt October 27, 2016 at 2:50 pm

    Eggs in Purgatory is a dish I’ve been meaning to try… forever! Pinned to try yours SOON!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta October 27, 2016 at 3:47 pm

      Thank you so much Carol. It’s a great dish, full of flavor. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

  • Avatar
    Reply Michel October 27, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    I have to make this if only for the fact that its the greatest named dish ever! The fact that it is so flavorful makes it icing on the cake!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta October 28, 2016 at 8:58 am

      Thanks Michel, funny name isn’t it? Hope you enjoy it!

  • Avatar
    Reply Kristyn October 28, 2016 at 8:50 am

    I have never heard of this dish before, but it looks amazing. I will have to try this soon. Pinned and drooling over here.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta October 28, 2016 at 9:01 am

      It is an old Italian dish, popular in Italy but not as much abroad, where it seems it is way more popular the middle eastern version named Shakshuka. It is delicious and so tasty! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Avatar
    Reply Tina October 28, 2016 at 8:53 am

    This looks great!! I have never heard of this dish before. It’s the perfect dinner for someone who love eggs, like me:) Thanks for the recipe!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta October 28, 2016 at 9:03 am

      Thank you Tina! I agree, it is perfect for dinner!

  • Avatar
    Reply Kim @ Three Olives Branch October 31, 2016 at 8:49 am

    I’ve been to Italy a few times but was never lucky enough to run across this! It looks so delicious, I need to try it out!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta October 31, 2016 at 10:50 am

      Thanks Kim, hope you try it out and let us know how you liked it! It is a “peasant dish”,not so common to find on restaurant’s menu, more likely in people’s homes 🙂 .

  • Avatar
    Reply Michelle October 31, 2016 at 10:32 pm

    Such an easy and yummy recipe!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta November 1, 2016 at 8:08 am

      It is, Michelle, so easy and yet so tasty! Thanks for leaving your comment!

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