Baked Eggs in Tomato Sauce: It’s What’s for Dinner

Eggs are back; in fact eggs are the new black (yes even the white ones)!

Remember way back in the 1990s people stopped eating eggs because of high cholesterol? But wait, then we discovered– sure eggs had cholesterol but it was “good” cholesterol versus “bad” cholesterol! Suddenly we could eat eggs again (not that I ever stopped).

Once eggs were given the A‑OK, naturally someone just had to get in there and tinker with them, so they came up with the idea of the “super egg”. These eggs are high in Omega‑3 and they are supposed to change your life. But these eggs taste kinda fishy to me. I mean litterally, they taste a bit like canned tuna fish. Hmmm, is that really an improvemnet?

So what say we give eggs a break. Because everything about them is just great!

In my house, despite the latest health trends or salmonella scares– eggs never left the kitchen. And by eggs I do mean real eggs. I never have and never will dabble in boxes of egg substitute products. Mother Nature gave eggs the perfect compostable container, so I don’t see the point of those cardboard carton concoctions.

eggs in a bowlBecause one of the simplest pleasures the kitchen is cracking open an egg. Even kids want to do it. Just observe a 5 year old in the kitchen if you don’t believe me. You pull the eggs out, and sure enough that kid will ask to crack one open for you! 

Eggs are universally beloved, or at least they should be. The egg is the symbol of fertility. Its beauty is in the simplicity of its form. It is a nearly perfect food from every standpoint: nutrition, flavor and versatility. I see eggs as a fundamental part of how I cook. They can stand alone, or become the unseen structure in a recipe. But they are indispensible.

But besides all that, eggs are just it for me. I mean nothing satisfies like eggs. Especially eggs for dinner after a long hard day. Can’t you just see yourself easing into a plateful, on a cool, blustery night?

So why then is the egg so underrated as a meal for when the sun don’t shine? I recognize it stature as everybody’s favorite breakfast food. I am not trying to displace it from your morning routine. But I do wonder why too people can’t conceive of having eggs for dinner at home.  Except of course when there is nothing left to eat in the house, and they are apologetically offered in their most familar morning form– scrambled.

There must be some reason for this. Is the egg considered too humble to be the centerpiece of the evening repast? It shouldn’t. But if you look at America’s eating habits you will see that the consumption of eggs peaked in1945. My guess is– because of the war meat was either too expensive or was being diverted to the men in combat. So inventive homecooks turned to the cheapest form of protein they could find. Shortly after the war ended egg consumption declined dramatically. I know its anecdotal, but my guess is there were eggs on a lot of wartime dinner tables.

egg consumption chartBut guess what? Once the good cholesterol versus bad cholesterol news came out egg consumption started climbing again! The United States is still in 10th place regarding overall consumption among all the countries of the world. But hey, I figure the rise in consuption is a good sign that Americans are starting to eat eggs for dinner again!

And why not? Think of all the yummy possibilities: Salade Lyonnaise, Steak and Eggs, Souffle. These all sound wonderfully delicious and worthy of my main meal. But today, I want to present another egg dinner that may be new to you. Baked Eggs In Tomato Sauce with Ricotta Cheese, known as Uova in Brodetto in Italy.

It’s an eggs-as-meat main course simmered in tomato sauce. My version has ricotta cheese. But that is simply a flourish and not necessary. Because this meal represents cooking at its must elemental. It may have its roots in the Mediterranean where you might also see it served over pasta. But there is a beloved Middle-Eastern version called shakshuka, and in India they serve it with chapatti or other bread for dipping.

So the next time I see an egg consumption chart I expect to see a slight tick upwards. Because I just know you are gonna have eggs for dinner very soon!

Baked Eggs In Tomato Sauce with Ricotta Cheese serves 4

Inspired by Mario Batali


  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig parsley, left whole, plus 1 sprig, finely chopped
  • 6 mint leaves, minced
  • 1 clv garlic, lightly crushed
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 (16-ounce) can san marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 3 basil leaves, cut into thin strips crosswise
  • 8 large eggs
  • 4 heaping spoonfuls of ricotta cheese
  • 8 T grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • salt and pepper, to taste

baked eggs prepPreheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a 10 to 12-inch saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, 1 sprig parsley, mint, and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the onion starts to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and allow it to evaporate completely.

Add the tomatoes and their juices. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until slightly reduced, about 15 minutes. Remove the garlic and parsley and discard.

Add the remaining parsley and the basil to the sauce and stir in. Season the sauce with salt and pepper then divide it among 4 low oven-proof bowls, reserving 1 cup. Crack 2 eggs into each bowl. Dollop a heaping spoonful of ricotta next to the eggs. Then top with a bit more of the reserved sauce and 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Bake until egg whites are just opaque (yolks should still be soft but to taste is fine), 24 to 28 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through.

Give it a good grind of black pepper and a sprinkle of the remaining Parmesan cheese. Serve hot with grilled bread or pasta.


Greg Henry

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