Eggs in purgatory

by Ed Smith

An Italian iteration of shakshuka with a fiery punch of nduja

This is a feisty breakfast, brunch or lunch option, differentiated from the ever-popular Middle Eastern ‘shakshuka’ because it has nduja, the Calabrian cured spreadable salami, as its base, as well as top notes of fresh basil instead of parsley or coriander.

Below are alternative ingredients to serve one and two people. Four people (eight eggs) would require a surprisingly large sauté pan and I would recommend splitting between two vessels if you’re feeding that many (or more).

For more on Italian cured meats, read Ed’s latest blog post


Extra virgin olive oil
Sourdough (or similar), toasted

For one:
Light olive oil
25g nduja
1 large garlic clove, finely sliced
300g cherry tomatoes
1 tsp golden caster sugar
½ tsp red wine vinegar
Sea salt and black pepper
10 basil leaves
2 medium eggs

1 small heavy-bottomed sauté pan or skillet, suited to holding 2 eggs

For two:
Light olive oil
40g nduja
2 large garlic cloves garlic, finely sliced
500g cherry tomatoes
1 heaped tsp golden caster sugar
1 tsp red wine vinegar
Sea salt and black pepper
20 basil leaves
4 medium eggs

1 medium sauté pan or skillet, suited to holding 2 eggs


Put the sauté pan or skillet over a low heat, add a dash of light olive oil and the nduja. Allow the nduja to warm for 1 min and begin to melt (not fry), poking the paste a little and spreading it around the pan while the fat turns from solid to liquid. Add the garlic slices and cook for 1½ mins, softening rather than browning the garlic.

Put the tomatoes in the pan, along with 50ml water. Increase the heat to medium and place a lid on top, leaving for 10 mins so that the tomatoes start to release their juices, split and sink down a bit. Stir after 5-6 mins to check the tomatoes are boiling, not burning, and squash them with a fork to encourage their collapse.

After that time, remove the lid and let the tomatoes cook for 5 mins more, reducing and thickening a little. Add the sugar, vinegar and a heavy pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper, then stir half the basil leaves in.

Once the basil leaves have wilted, create 2 (or 4) areas for the eggs to be cooked in, by pushing the remnants of the tomatoes around. Crack the eggs in and put the lid back on top. Cook for 3 mins.

Garnish with the remaining basil leaves and a good glug of peppery olive oil and serve with toast spread with nduja (for those who like things hot).

Recipe and image: Ed Smith