Saucy Italian baked eggs

May 27, 2014 at 6:38 pm (breakfast, B_minus (2.5 stars), Italian, Necessarily nonvegan, One pot wonders, Ottolenghi, Quick weeknight recipe, Spring recipes, Summer recipes, Website / blog, Winter recipes)

I came across this recipe for saucy Italian baked eggs on a random blog, and immediately started drooling. I’ve been craving tomato sauce lately and this recipe is basically an egg baked in a big ramekin of marinara sauce with a little mozzarella and basil for garnish. It even looked easy enough that Derek could make it himself.

First, here’s the linked marinara sauce recipe (makes more than you will need for the egg cups, maybe 2 to 4 cups?):

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (I use 6)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 large (28 ounce) cans whole tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt


  1. Break up the tomatoes by hand, or blend them lightly in the blender until chunky.
  2. Place a saucepan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and sauté the garlic until fragrant but not browned.
  3. Add the bay leaf, tomatoes, and sea salt. Simmer over medium for 10 minutes, reduce the heat to low and simmer for another 10 minutes until the sauce becomes thick.

Ingredients for four small or two large egg cups:

  • ½ cup marinara sauce
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 ounces fresh mozzarella, torn into small pieces (or 2 ounces grated mozzarella)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh basil, thinly sliced

Instructions for preparing the egg cups:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Get out two large (10- to 12-ounce) ramekins. In each ramekin place 4 tablespoons of marinara sauce and two small eggs, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Then top each ramekin with 1 ounce of fresh mozzarella.   If you only have 6- to 8-ounce ramekins, then halve all the amounts and use twice as many ramekins.
  3. Bake for 10-14 minutes. 10 minutes will result in a very runny egg, and 14 minutes will result in an egg that’s totally cooked.

Notes from June 19, 2016:

We made this for breakfast this morning. I filled our large 10-ounce ramekins with 2 eggs each for Derek and I, and used an 8-ounce ramekin and a single egg for Alma. I think I used more mozzarella than the recipe called for though. Derek took his out after about 13? minutes and it ended up a bit overcooked. I took Alma’s and mine out after maybe 14 minutes, and I thought they were pretty good, but they could have been taken out a minute earlier, especially since the egg keeps cooking in the hot ramekin after it comes out of the oven.

Derek and I enjoyed the breakfast, and found it very filling, but Alma wasn’t a fan. She really didn’t like the mozzarella, which had acquired a slightly rubbery texture. And I think she couldn’t distinguish the mozzarella from the egg white, so she just rejected the whole thing and ended up eating some of the tomato sauce plain and a hard-boiled egg. I gave her some uncooked mozzarella to try, but she didn’t seem too excited.

Notes from original post (May 2014):

First we made the marinara sauce, and I regret that we didn’t double or triple the recipe. (As I said, I’ve really been craving tomato sauce lately.) Then we put together the ramekins. I don’t have any 4 ounce ramekins, so we used 8-10 ounce ramekins. But 2 tablespoons of marinara sauce looked kind of skimpy, so we ended up putting in more (about 3 or 4 tablespoons I think). But we just used one egg. I thought the final ratio was good. Lots of marinara sauce, plenty of baked egg, and just a bit of mozzarella and basil. Actually, we could have used more basil, but my poor windowsill plant is on its last legs.

We cooked Derek’s ramekins for 12 minutes, and his eggs were still quite runny, but I left mine in for longer, until the eggs were fully cooked.

I think Derek liked the dish more than me, maybe because the runny eggs work better than the cooked eggs. He said he’d happily make it again. I wouldn’t be in a particular rush, but if some one served it to me I wouldn’t mind. It’s a great marinara-delivery device, with a bit of added protein!

Uova Affogate, poached eggs in tomato sauce (May 2015)

My sister Hanaleah was visiting me this week, and made this recipe for “Uova Affogate” or poached eggs in tomato sauce from the Vegetarian Table Italy cookbook, by Julia Della Croce. It reminded me a lot of the saucy italian baked eggs recipe, but there’s no cheese in it, and the eggs are poached on the stovetop rather than baked in the oven.


  • 1 28-ounce can tomatoes in puree
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • several leaves of fresh basil, coarsely chopped
  • salt and freshly milled black pepper
  • 4 eggs, as fresh as possible
  • bruschetta or toasted bread


  1. Combine the olive oil, garlic, and onion in a 12-inch stainless steel (cold) skillet and place over low heat. Stir, cover, and then cook gently until the garlic and onion are wilted, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the tomato paste and stir in. Now stir in the tomatoes, basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Use a metal spatula to break the tomatoes up a bit.
  3. Simmer gently uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes. The sauce should be thick, not watery. If the sauce is thin, simmer uncovered for a little longer.
  4. Now crack each of the eggs in a small cup or bowl, and slip each directly into the simmering sauce. Immediately cover the pan and continue to simmer gently for 2 to 3 minutes, or until a white skin forms over the yolks. Transfer the eggs and the sauce to individual plates. Serve the eggs immediately with the bruschetta.

My notes:

Hanaleah used less olive oil and way more basil than the recipe called for. I quite liked the tomato sauce, and the eggs were good too, but we cooked them longer than 2 to 3 minutes, because I wanted my yolk firmer. The recipe made a nice simple supper, but would be good for brunch too.

Shakshuka from Ottolenghi’s Plenty Cookbook (page 87)

I bought a bunch of organic bell peppers that were on sale and decided to try this North African dish for brunch. It’s a relatively easy recipe. You dry-toast some cumin seeds then saute onions and red and yellow peppers with a little brown sugar and herbs (bay leaves, thyme, parsley, and cilantro). After the veggies are cooked you add tomatoes, saffron, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Once it has a pasta-sauce consistency you crack eggs into the veggies, cover, and let cook over very low heat until the eggs are just set. Garnish with cilantro.

I mostly followed the recipe but used way less oil than called for —3 Tbsp. instead of 3/4 cup. Also I used dried thyme instead of fresh, and canned tomatoes instead of fresh. The main mistake I made was overcooking my eggs. I turned off the heat when the eggs were just done but left the lid on the pan, and the eggs ended up totally solid. Whoops. But the bigger problem was the sauce was just a big boring. Between the brown sugar and sweet bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes, it had a quite sweet feel. It needed something a bit more savory we thought. The head notes say that some people add preserved lemons or feta. I think both could be a good addition. The instructions have you slice the onions and cut the bell peppers into 3/4-inch strips, but we found the size and shape awkward. If I make this again, I will just dice them.

Although this recipe calls for a ton of saffron (1/2 tsp.!), the saffron taste doesn’t really stand out. It’s definitely there, but Derek didn’t even notice it until I mentioned it. I think a little saffron (1/8 tsp.) would be plenty.

Derek wasn’t that excited about this recipe, but maybe if I hadn’t overcooked the eggs he would have liked it better. Both of us were disappointed that we couldn’t taste the herbs. Next time I’ll double or triple the amounts.


  1. Tallulah said,

    This sounds like an Italian version of Shakshuka. Have you had that before? It’s super good, and you eat it spooned on pita. I’m going to try out your version this weekend, except with duck eggs because I don’t keep chicken eggs around.

  2. Healthy vegetarian breakfast ideas | The captious vegetarian said,

    […] but Alma mostly ends up eating white bread, and Derek is never excited. I’ve also tried Italian baked eggs in tomato sauce, but I have trouble cooking them to the right degree, and the ramekins are a pain […]

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