From the Kitchen – Sticking to the Plan

by Joan Saunders | photos by Amanda Cribdon Photography – 

It’s January, and apparently this is the time to make resolutions. It’s when we take stock and figure out what goals we have for the new year. And, of course, we know that keeping the promises we make to ourselves is not always the easiest thing to do, no matter how strong our original intentions.

I have had a variation of the same resolutions for years: eat well; move more. And some days it’s so much easier than others to stick to the plan. When I’m feeling lazy, there’s not a great deal of motivation to figure out what to make for dinner that will taste fabulous and still be healthy and satisfying. This is where Purgatory Eggs comes into play.

I discovered this recipe about a year and a half ago, and it’s become a go-to meal. It’s quick, it’s not difficult, it’s packed with loads of flavour and you can have the ingredients sitting in the cupboard, ready to throw together at any time. It’s basically a puttanesca sauce in which you poach some eggs. If you’d rather not have eggs, use the sauce to top off pasta. You could also add spinach or arugula which will cook down beautifully and amp up the veggie quotient.

What I love about making this meal is that you pile up the salty, yummy ingredients on a cutting board and just chop away at them, making a gorgeous mound of tasty, colourful goodness. I add a tin of anchovies, but you can always leave them out if you’d prefer. The recipe originally only called for two anchovies, but heck, why leave a few in the tin to get lost in the back of the fridge? So I throw in the whole lot.

We usually eat this for dinner with two eggs each, and it’s surprisingly filling. It could also be a breakfast or brunch dish as it’s akin to Shakshuka except with a Mediterranean slant rather than Middle Eastern; both are so good at any time of day. Pile up the toast with sauce and eggs and dig in. My son precariously loads up a whole piece of toast with the mixture and eats it like an open-faced sandwich. But I say go for it, as it’s a savoury, delicious way to stick to the plan for at least one more day.

Purgatory Eggs
Serves 3-4 (can easily be halved to serve 2)

olive oil
4 cloves garlic
½ cup flat leaf parsley leaves
4 tbsp pitted black olives
2 tbsp capers, drained
1 tin anchovy filets (less, or none, if preferred)
2 tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 28oz can diced or crushed tomatoes
4-6 large eggs
½ cup grated parmesan or pecorino cheese, plus extra to finish if desired
slices of hearty, crusty bread (I generally serve one slice per egg)

On a cutting board, pile all of the tasty goodness: garlic, parsley, olives, capers, anchovies (if using), oregano and red pepper flakes. Using a big knife, chop through them until you have everything cut up into smaller pieces, like a mound of salty, tangy little pebbles. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add a glug (about 1 tbsp) of olive oil and warm it up. Add the pile of garlic/parsley/capers mix to the pan and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes. Now carefully add tomatoes, as you don’t want them to spatter, and stir to mix it all together. Lower heat to medium/low and simmer sauce for 5-7 minutes.

Using a spoon, make a small divot in the sauce for each egg that you’re going to cook. Crack them into the sauce. Sprinkle the eggs and sauce with parmesan; cover the sauce and eggs with a lid to help them cook. For dinner, I do two eggs per person.

This is when you can toast your bread. If I’m doing more than a couple of slices, I brush each piece with a bit of olive oil on each side and place the bread under a preheated broiler. Watch the bread carefully and flip once to toast each side.

The eggs will cook in about 5-7 minutes, depending on how many you’re poaching. It takes longer for more eggs. Watch carefully so you don’t hard cook them, but the softness of the eggs is up to you. Spoon into bowls and add a bit more cheese and parsley if desired. Serve with the toasted bread.

Combined and adapted from:

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