Heavenly or hell? Eggs purgatory, Napoli style
Heavenly or hell? Eggs purgatory, Napoli style Copyright Savin Mattozzi
Copyright Savin Mattozzi
Copyright Savin Mattozzi

Meal of the Week: From purgatory to paradise, eggs Neapolitan style

By Savin Mattozzi
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In order to really benefit from Euronews Culture's Meal of the Week, treat the instructions as a guide but feel free to get creative! The only ingredient you must use is tender, loving care. Buon appetito !


Some of us may not feel confident about it, others consider themselves to be handy or experts. Whether you can't cook or won't cook - it's fair to say that eating good food is a universal pleasure. So with this in mind, Euronews Culture presents its Meal of the Week, a collection of carefully cultivated recipes you can make or gift to your loved ones. Enjoy!

Hiding behind Italy’s most famous dishes like pizza, pasta with pesto and cannoli, are hundreds of lesser-known regional dishes that are rarely eaten outside of Italian homes. 

One of my favourites to make is the super easy uova al purgatorio or eggs in purgatory. A spicy and savory dish that needs minimal preparation and utensils to make and eat when you just want to dig into some good food without thinking too much about it.

With roots in the southern region of Campania, this dish was historically made with the leftovers of the ragù sauce from Sunday lunch as a way to ensure nothing goes to waste. Uova al purgatorio bares a striking resemblance to North African shakshuka and is eaten in a very similar way: by scooping it up with pieces of fresh bread. Or as it’s called in Naples ‘a scarpetta’.

The origins of the dish are up for debate but it would not be a stretch to assume that it was in part influenced by the shakshuka of North Africa, especially considering the history of trade and conquest around the Mediterranean over the past few thousand years.

Uova al purgatorio can technically be made with any tomato-based sauce. If you want to stick to tradition, you can make it with a simple spicy tomato sauce. In my home, I make it with a different traditional Neapolitan sauce: puttanesca.

As delicious as the traditional recipe is, adding a few extra ingredients makes it a new and slightly more filling meal.

Savin Mattozzi
Eggs in PurgatorySavin Mattozzi

What you need

Savin Mattozzi
The main ingredients. Please add tlc.Savin Mattozzi

500 grams of canned peeled tomatoes

3-4 fillets of anchovies

Black olives

3 garlic cloves, minced


Crushed red chili peppers

Small bundle of parsley


Black pepper

Olive oil

2-3 eggs


Fresh bread

How to make it

Put a skillet on low medium heat and add about three tablespoons of olive oil. Once the oil gets hot, add in the minced garlic until it starts to get slightly brown. 

Savin Mattozzi
Eggs over easy? We got you covered.Savin Mattozzi

Add in the anchovies and after a few seconds break them up a bit with a wooden spoon to spread them out. Immediately add the capers and olives. Make sure the mixture is well stirred then add in the peeled tomatoes.

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Step two. You're getting much warmer.Savin Mattozzi

In order to not waste any of the tomato sauce in the can, put some water in it and give it a little swirl to get all of the leftover tomato sauce then pour the liquid into the pan. Add the salt, black pepper, red chili pepper and parsley to taste.

Now the hardest part is over, all you need to do now is stir the sauce every 4-5 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Once it has thickened up, crack your eggs into the sauce and cover for about 4-5 minutes.


While you are waiting for the eggs to cook, you can slice up your bread and serve it on a plate. Some people toast it but it is not a necessary step to take.

Once the eggs are cooked to your liking, take the pan off the heat, put a trivet on your table and you are ready to dig in! Buon appetito.

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