Recipe: Eggs in Purgatory – Uova in Purgatorio

Because of this dish, I’ll probably get a few hits from freaky religious people searching for their paths or their Truth or whatever, but so be it. Eggs in purgatory are gooood.

Besides, I’ve recently been found by someone searching for “the ledge freaky weird stevie fans stevie nicks,” so I shouldn’t so much worry about the religious nuts, right?

Welcome freaky religious people!

Today’s What’s Cooking Wednesday is inspired by the fact that P brings me at least 5 eggs every day.

We have hens you know. Although we give most of the eggs away, there’s still an awful lot left over. And that allows one’s imagination to run wild with visions of different egg plates.

And someday I’ll show you the hens, I promise.

I remember my grandmother serving Eggs in Purgatory (which I’ve also seen called “uova fra diavolo“) as a quick, light lunch or dinner — kind of something you make when you don’t know what else to eat. But it could easily be an impressive looking appetizer for those who don’t know just how easy the recipe really is.

As far as I know, this dish comes from Naples — if The Sopranos Family Cookbook says so, it must be true. Actually though, I assume my grandmother got this one from her father’s side of the family, which was from a small village in the province of Salerno near Naples called Pisciotta. According to family lore, her father was also quite a cook, particularly with coniglio (rabbit).

If you already have leftover tomato sauce, by all means, just put that in a skillet and heat it up before breaking the eggs in. That makes this recipe *extremely* fast and easy.

For those who are doing this from scratch, though, I’ll include a recipe for sauce here, which happens to be a basic pizza sauce. The oregano is what makes this fabulous, IMHO.

Uova in Purgatorio/Eggs in Purgatory

(serves up to 4)

eggs in purgatory / uova in purgatorio

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 can peeled tomatoes, passed through grinder, or coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt, black pepper, & peperoncino to taste
  • 1-2 eggs per person (up to eight)
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

1. Put the olive oil in a skillet large enough to hold the number of eggs you’ll be making.

2. Sauté the garlic until over medium heat but don’t let it burn.

3. Add the tomatoes, oregano, salt, pepper, and peperoncino and cook sauce for about 15 minutes or until it is thickened to your taste.

4. Once the sauce is ready, make little wells in the sauce and break in eggs one at a time. Grate a generous amount of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese directly on top.

5. Cover the skillet and let eggs cook until the yolks are to your desired runnyness (yes, that’s a word for the purposes of this recipe).

6. Serve immediately with crusty bread. Grate more cheese on top if you like ’em cheesy like I do!

Buon appetito!

21 Beans of Wisdom to “Recipe: Eggs in Purgatory – Uova in Purgatorio”
  1. Giulia

    My Sister In Law makes this dish often. She never called it Uova in Purgatorio though. She uses some butchered Napoletan dialect name for it. LOL
    Man, now I have to ask her what she calls it because it’s on the tip of my tongue and I just can’t remember!

  2. karen

    Ehi! Watch it, young lady, Naples has it’s own province. 🙂 This may sound strange, but I swear I’ve seen that dish being held by a pastore in a presepe somewhere.

  3. Gil

    Brings back memories of my youth. I think that both of my Grandmother and my Mom made this dish!

  4. sognatrice

    Giulia, definitely let me know if you think of it. I don’t know any dialect from my great-grandfather’s side.

    Oops Karen! I meant to say what I’ve now edited the post to read. Thanks! And sadly perhaps, your recollection doesn’t sound all that strange.

    Gil, glad to spark the memories. And I loved your comment on the de-lurking post.

  5. Anonymous

    From a fellow PA coal country transplant – my grandmother, from Calabria, always made this when we didn’t have enough meatballs to go around. She would throw some eggs in the sauce and mmmmmm! This brings back great memories. I think I am going to have this for dinner tonight!

  6. J.Doe

    Looks good.

  7. Christine

    YUM! This is also how I make my huevos rancheros (should you want to mix it up for the P)…I basically make a fresh salsa (chopped tomato, onion, garlic, green pepper, jalapeno, and a bit of oil and lime juice), bring it to a simmer, add the eggs, serve with refried beans (mashed pinto beans, garlic, onion, chili, cumin) and rice. It’s a popular sunday brunch in my house.

    Maybe I’ll mix it up and make the uova in purgatorio this week to mix it up here.

  8. Shan

    Looks yummy. I’ll have to give it a try.

  9. Delina

    I’ve never had it here, but it looks like something I’d like.

  10. something

    Believe it or not, my Calabrese grandmother used to make it for me as I snack when I got home from school (4 in the afternoon). She always saw me as undernourished and lavished me with food to show her love. No, I’m still not overweight!

  11. sognatrice

    Anonymous, we ate this all the time with leftover sauce too; nice to hear from you!

    JDoe and Shan, thanks–I hope you’ve tried it by now 🙂

    Christine, that sounds good, although I’d have to scramble (hah!) to find some of those ingredients here. Worth looking though….

    Delina, I’m wondering if you’ve seen it around by now….

    Something, oh I definitely believe it. Mangia mangia!!!

  12. Michael

    Ok, I know the last comment on this was well over a year ago, but I just found it and tried it this morning. What a fabulous dish! Easy, rustic, and delicious! Thanks for sharing!

    So happy you enjoyed it Michael! Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  13. Yum! I’m going to make this as soon as I’m back in Italy next week. The boyfriend has mentioned something like this, but I wasn’t sure how to make it. I’ll surprise him next week! I often have a little bit of extra sauce left over and your tip for using that is great.

    BTW, let me know if you ever get up this way to see that little village in the province of Salerno where your family came from. Would be great to meet up! 🙂

    Definitely will let you know, Laura — I’ve been meaning to get up there for YEARS now!

  14. 07.30.2011

    Had never heard of this before…sounds yummy! Will be having this week to give it a try! Thanks! Hugs!

    Glad you found this recipe buried in here Pam 🙂

  15. 07.31.2011

    Made this for supper…..wholly yum! I cheated on the spag sauce….let Prego do it for me and made some gluten free french bread in the bread maker. It was so quick and easy! I just LOVE trying new recipes. I told Cliff we just had our first REAL Italian meal….he he! Hugs girl!

    Haha glad you liked it Pam!

  16. Daniel

    This looks just great. It reminds me of a certain dish I had in Paris (la fontaine du mars), which I think was a variation on oeufs en cocotte … it was a lone egg, served runny in a little terrine and underneath was a tomato sauce made with onions.

    Btw, one of my guilty pleasures is, on a day after I’ve made Marcella’s tomato sauce III, I will take the leftover sauce, heat it, and eat it with soft-boiled eggs in a bowl.

    All this is a long way of saying I think tomato sauce and eggs is a great combination, and I’m glad now to have another way to eat it.

    michelle Reply:

    Mmmm lovely descriptions here Daniel; I’m a big fan of this general combo too. Will have to experiment a bit!

  17. Bill

    I’ve heard of this dish but have never made it. Looks wonderful! I’ll bet it would be a great dish on a cold rainy winter’s day. What do you think about serving it on toast with a little olive oil drizzled on the top to finish? Maybe?

  18. michelle

    Sounds great to me, Bill! Let me know how it comes out if you make it 🙂

  19. marie concetta

    you got me! I’ll have to make this one soon! The Mexicans have a similar dish, Huevos Rancheros — also hot and spicy.

    michelle Reply:

    Hope you enjoy it! It’s one of my favorites 🙂

Michelle KaminskyMichelle Kaminsky is an American attorney-turned-freelance writer who lived in her family's ancestral village in Calabria, Italy for 15 years. This blog is now archived. 

Calabria Guidebook

Calabria travel guide by Michelle Fabio



Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake