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Although eggs with tomato sauce might sound a little odd, it's wonderful Italian comfort food. Compared to your normal tomato-based pasta dish, eggs take the place of meat protein and crusty bread substitutes for pasta. On a cold winter night it really hits the spot, plus it's easy and inexpensive yet filling. The tomato sauce can be made in advance or if you're really pressed for time you could buy a jar of tomato basil sauce - just be sure to buy one that's relatively light and not too thick or it will overwhelm the eggs. Once you have the sauce (one way or another), it's a one pot meal that takes just a few minutes to make - just heat the sauce, crack the raw eggs right on top, scatter chunks of smoked mozzarella around, and let cook covered for 5 minutes. Toss some fresh basil leaves on top and serve with crusty bread. The cheese becomes melty and gooey, the eggs go very well with the tomato sauce and the bread sops up any leftover sauce.
A word about the cheese - the original recipe called for scamorza, a classic Italian smoked mozzarella that comes in a distinctive pear shape. I couldn't find it but could find smoked mozzarella made in the United States, which worked perfectly well. You could also use a high-quality fresh mozzarella if you want but I thought the smoked cheese was an interesting change of pace.
You can adjust the spiciness to your liking by the amount of crushed red pepper you add - I added a very small pinch and found it resulted in a spiciness you could just barely taste. I'd probably add a little more next time, or you could always add more sprinkled on top at the table to each person's preference. I used no-salt tomato puree because I always use low-sodium canned tomato products - most regular varieties have a really high sodium level. If you use a regular puree with salt added I would wait to add any salt until you taste the sauce. Saltiness is such an individual preference that I try to err on the side of less salt and let everyone add at the table if they prefer.
As I said, this makes a great and comforting cold weather dinner but it would also make a very nice brunch dish. It's easy to double either by using a very large skillet or by using two medium skillets.
Eggs in Tomato Sauce with Smoked Mozzarella
1 recipe tomato sauce (see below)
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces scamorza or smoke mozzarella, sliced
12 small basil leaves or 6 large basil leaves, torn
Salt and pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan and add the tomato sauce. Bring to a brisk simmer.
Add the eggs, one at a time to different spots in the pan, allowing them to cook right in the sauce. Tear the cheese slices into small pieces and scatter over the top. Turn the heat down to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes.
Remove the lid and add the basil at the very end. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately with crusty bread.
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 small pinch dried red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
1 (28 ounce) can no-salt tomato puree
½ teaspoon salt (or less depending on the sodium level of the tomato puree)
3 fresh basil leaves, torn
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and add onion, garlic, and chili peppers. Gently cook on medium-low for 5-8 minutes until softened and translucent, stirring occasionally so the garlic doesn’t burn. Add the tomato puree and simmer and additional 5 to 10 minutes. Season with salt to taste and add basil leaves at the very end.