Eggs in purgatory is a meal made for brunch! It’s made with humble ingredients but packs bold flavor. A spicy, slightly sweet tomato sauce is simmered with white beans and whole eggs for a hearty, nutritious, gluten-free meal fit for a feast.
It’s brunch season y’all. Can I get a whooping “Oh heck yeah!”?!?
Brunch “season” is totally a thing, and I could not be more excited for it’s arrival. After a long (this year, especially long) dreary, cold winter, there’s little that excites me more than sipping coffee and tucking into eggs or pancakes on a warm, sunny patio. I’ve got wild children, so that patio is usually mine, and the coffee is usually cold….but it’s still brunch. And it’s still al fresco.
If you’re primarily an at-home bruncher like myself, you’ll love this easy recipe for eggs in purgatory. It’s a substantial, hearty dish made with simple, but flavor packed, ingredients, and is a complete meal in and of itself.
At it’s most basic, eggs in purgatory is a seasoned, thick tomato sauce with baked eggs. The seasonings vary from culture to culture, and there’s usually a starchy element for scooping. Mine is more mediterranean skewed, with a big hit of heat from red pepper flakes. I skip the traditional bread and add white beans for a cleaner, gluten-free version of the classic.
Eggs in purgatory is big on flavor, low on fuss, and perfect for a crowd. The brunchiest brunch food there ever was.
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Eggs in Purgatory Recipe Notes
Eggs in purgatory is deceptive – it’s ingredient are humble, but pack big, bold flavor.
Because there are so few ingredients, buy the best quality tomatoes and eggs you can afford. These two ingredients really take center stage, so give your finished recipe a delicious bump from the start. I prioritize farm fresh eggs and high quality organic tomatoes.
I opt for whole canned tomatoes that I puree myself instead of canned pureed tomatoes. I don’t normally encourage creating additional dishes to clean, but it’s worth it in the case of most tomato sauces.
First, I find that their flavor is the brightest and freshest of all the canned tomato varieties. Second, I can puree the tomatoes just right to get the perfect consistency for smooth, rich tomato sauce that isn’t too watery, and isn’t too chunky. For everything you need to know about canned tomatoes, this excerpt from The Food Lab is an excellent resource.
Dump your can of whole peeled tomatoes (including residual packing juice) into a blender and pulse 3-5 times until the consistency is somewhere between smooth and coarse. The tomatoes should be evenly pureed, but not soupy, with some small chunks remaining.
The remainder of the sauce is pretty straight forward. Some thinly sliced onions, a healthy dose of minced garlic (at least 2 cloves), and spices. This is a spicy, slightly sweet tomato sauce seasoned with red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, and just a touch of cinnamon.
I use a whole teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes, and to me it’s very spicy (but I’m kind of a wimp when it comes to heat). For Cameron, it was “good spicy”. Scale the amount to your preference for heat, but I wouldn’t go beyond 2 teaspoons or it will be too spicy to enjoy the other flavors.
White beans replace traditional crusty bread to keep this recipe gluten-free, and on the cleaner more protein-packed side. I use cannellini beans, which are firm, but creamy. Use scratch cooked beans if you have them, or one can that’s been thoroughly drained and rinsed.
Behold this pan of flavorful white bean tomato sauce. I’m actually drooling on my keyboard remembering it.
Now for a little magic – eggs, y’all. They are transformative in most recipes, and this dish is no exception.
To add the eggs, insert a wooden spoon into the skillet and push the sauce aside with one hand while you pour a whole egg into the well it creates with another. As you’re pouring the egg into the well, try to get most of the whites to go in first, and the yolk to land on top. Bury the whites a bit by pushing some tomato sauce over them to help speed along their cooking process and keep the yolks runny.
You need to be efficient and add the eggs in quick succession so that they cook together at the same rate. Cracking each egg into a ramekin first helps this process. I have a whole bunch of these (super cheap) glass prep bowls from Crate and Barrel and they are endlessly useful, and 100% dishwasher safe.
Season the eggs with salt and pepper, and then simmer until the whites are set and the yolks are still runny. It’ll take about 7 or 8 minutes, depending on how large your eggs are.
BOOM. Tomato, eggy, creamy awesome. Top with fresh parsley and a little shaved parmesan cheese and serve. The best way to get these from pan to plate is with either a wide wooden spoon or a pancake spatula.
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- 2 tbsp avocado or olive oil
- 1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes, more or less to taste
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- pinch cinnamon
- 1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes, pureed in a blender
- 2 tbsp chopped parsley, divided
- 2 cups cooked cannellini beans, or 1 can, drained and rinsed
- 6 whole eggs, cracked into individual small bowls
- sea or kosher salt, to taste
- cracked black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 c shredded parmesan cheese
- Heat a 12” skillet over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add the oil, and heat until it shimmers.
- Add the onion and saute, stirring frequently, until translucent, 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and saute, stirring continuously, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the red pepper flakes, oregano, cinnamon, and paprika to the onions and garlic. Stir to coat the onions in the spices and sauté until the spices are toasted and fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Reduce heat to low. Add the pureed tomatoes (see notes), 2 tbsp chopped parsley, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper. Stir to combine and simmer 10 minutes. Taste the sauce for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper if needed.
- Add the white beans, stir to combine, and simmer an additional 5 minutes.
- Make a well in the tomato sauce using the back of a wooden spoon. Gently an egg into the well, pouring as much of the whites first as possible. Spoon some of the sauce over the whites to partially bury them. Repeat with the remaining eggs, then season each egg with salt and pepper.
- Increase heat to medium. Simmer until the whites are set, but the yolks are still runny, 7-8 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Sprinkle the dish with the remaining tablespoon of parsley, and garnish with shredded parmesan cheese. Portion onto plates and serve immediately. Eggs in purgatory is best enjoyed immediately, and storing leftovers is not recommended.
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