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Eggs in Tomato & Capsicum Sauce

Mamma would often make this dish towards the end of the week when ingredients were running low in the kitchen before the next shopping run.  It also made a lovely quick weekend brunch or lunch that was easy enough for us to make without the help from mamma.  Making do with what you have to transform humble ingredients into memorable tasty dishes resonates with my idea of cooking.  Italians call it 'cucina povera', an Italian phrase that means  humble or peasant cooking.  My grandparents lived by it and over time, my parents have resorted back to it.

A 'trans-seasonal dish' that changes slightly with the swapping of herbs - basil during summer to parsley during the winter months,  is sure to be an all year round pleaser.  One can just imagine nonna going through her kitchen and finding her bottled home made tomato passata, or freshly picked tomatoes from her garden, fresh eggs from her chickens, some stale country bread and creating this tasty dish.  Simple poached eggs simmered in bubbly hot tomato sauce, then smeared over a grilled piece of bread is simple, rustic and heart warming.  The perfect "pick me up" when you need something warm and comforting.

This recipe has been adapted to include another ingredient -  the capsicum passata which my parents have used in their cooking since I can recall.  If you are time poor a slice of capsicum added to a tomato sauce during the cooking process, can also infuse extra flavour to this dish. 

Last weekend I set myself the task of making a few jars of this gorgeous vermillion red capsicum passata in preparation for our salame making that occurs around this time of year.  We add this to flavour the meat which is our traditional Calabrese recipe passed down from my maternal grandparents.  Mamma informed me that she still had a jar of the hot chilli passata, of which one only needs half a teaspoon to add some spice to the cooking,  so I only made the sweet capsicum type.

Capsicum Passata


6 large red  bell peppers or capsicums
salt to taste

Wash and cut capsicum into small pieces ensuring all seeds are removed.  Place in a pot with lid and allow the peppers to stew until tender.  The peppers will naturally release moisture, so there is no need to add water.  Add salt to taste and remove the lid allowing all the moisture to evaporate.

Once cooked, transfer the peppers into a food mill and process to separate the pulp from the skins.  You can use a food processor and process skins and all, as long as it is powerful enough to break everything down. 

Transfer the passata into sterilized jars and seal while still hot.  This quantity made 2 medium sized jars, which were allowed to cool before storing.  These two jars minus the few tablespoons full used for my eggs have gone straight into the fridge for our sausage mix next week.

Eggs in Tomato & Capsicum Sauce


serves 4   (You can halve the quantities as I did for this meal)    

4 large free range eggs
400 g tinned tomatoes (crushed) or passata
2 tablespoons capsicum passata 
4 tablespoons of olive oil
1 spring onion or small white onion

To serve:
crusty bread (4 slices)
1 garlic clove (peeled)
3 tbsp olive oil
chopped parsley or basil (depending on what is in season for garnish)

Finely dice the onion.  Warm the oil in a pan over a medium heat, add the onion and cook gently until soft and translucent.  Add the tomatoes and capsicum passata along with a pinch of salt.  Increase the heat so that the sauce comes to a gentle boil and then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.  The sauce should be dense and the oil should come to the surface.

Reduce the heat, make 4 pools in the sauce with a spoon and crack the eggs directly into the pools.  Cover the pan with lid and allow to gently cook for 8 minutes or until the white is cooked and the yoke is soft. Sprinkle with chopped parsley or basil.  

Toast the bread until golden brown.  Place the garlic clove on the tines of a fork and scrape the garlic along one side of the bread.  Brush with olive oil and serve alongside the cooked eggs.



  1. I love this capsicum passata - just gorgeous and such a vibrant colour

    1. Thank you Paola! It adds a lovely flavour to meat dishes as well.xx


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