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  • Megan

garden tomatoes and eggs over pasta (rustic eggs in purgatory)

Updated: Jun 12

poached egg and tomatoes over pasta with feta and basil

Don't know what to do with all your garden tomatoes? Cook yourself some rustic eggs in purgatory, an Italian peasant dish of eggs poached in tomato sauce.

For anyone who is fearful of cooking without a recipe, I think this dish is a great opportunity to have fun with what you have. It's all so forgiving. Even if, as I did, you add a little red sauce to the simmering tomatoes, or you forget the zucchini at first and then add it in later. Even if you drop your eggs a little too haphazardly into the simmering tomatoes, or you cook those babies far beyond a perfect poach—the dish will turn out.

When you spoon that mess of cooked egg and tomato over pasta and top it with feta and fresh herbs, it's hard not to feel a small sense of pride. You made something beautiful and nourishing from what you had on hand. Maybe one day you'll master that poached egg; but for now, you are fed.

poached egg and tomatoes over pasta with feta and basil

I’m keeping this recipe real loosey-goosey. Adapt it to your tastes and available ingredients. Improvise. Experiment. Have fun.

Ingredients (serves two)

6 oz pasta

3 to 5 large tomatoes, chopped

Olive oil

quarter of an onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, diced

optional: zucchini, red bell pepper, a can of beans, spinach...

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

salt and black pepper to taste

optional: about 1/2 cup tomato pasta sauce

2 to 4 eggs

Grated parmesan

Crumbled feta

Fresh parsley and/or basil


1. Get a pot of water heating to a boil so you can cook your pasta while the rest of the steps are happening.

2. In a large pot over medium heat, cook the onion in 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil until they start to get soft. If you’re adding zucchini or bell pepper, do so now with a little extra olive oil. Continue cooking until they start to get soft.

3. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or until the garlic is golden.

4. Add the chopped tomatoes to the pot. Stir, season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, and let them simmer until they are broken down into a sauce.

5. If you want your sauce to go further, add a half cup or so of jarred tomato pasta sauce. If you’re adding beans and/or spinach, do so now, then let the tomatoes come back to a simmer.

6. Gently add your cracked eggs to the pot of simmering sauce, giving each egg its own little space to cook in.

7. Cover the pot and let the eggs cook for about 5 minutes, give or take a minute or two depending on how done you like your eggs.

8. Drain the pasta, divide it into bowls, and top with grated parmesan and black pepper.

9. Top the pasta with a cooked egg and ladleful of sauce. Then top that with crumbled feta, fresh herbs, and a drizzle of olive oil.


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