Normally I have an almost hysterically inflexible no-red-with-egg rule: I can’t bear to see so much as a blob of ketchup or broiled tomato near (let alone mixed with) an egg on someone’s plate. But these heavenly Eggs in Purgatory utterly challenge and overturn my previously rigid prejudice.
1. Pour the olive oil into a frying pan, then grate in (or mince and add) the garlic, scatter in the red pepper flakes, and put the pan over a medium heat, stirring, for 1 minute.
2. Tip in the tomatoes, stir in the salt, and let it come to a bubble. It’s got to be hot enough to poach an egg in.
3. Crack in the egg (or eggs), sprinkle the Parmesan over it, leaving some of the yellow yolk still exposed, and partially cover with a lid. Let it bubble for 5 minutes, by which time the white should be set and the yolk still runny, but keep an eye on it.
4. Remove from the heat and serve—if so wished—sprinkled with a little more Parmesan and some chili oil, and some bread to dunk in.
Nigella's Notes: If I use my little cast-iron skillet, only 7 inches in diameter, there is really only room for 1 egg; but generally, a small frying pan tends to come in at about 8 inches in diameter, in which case you can easily fit 2 eggs in. Or you could always do 1 egg and drop the yolk of the second egg on the white of the first. . . . Either way, this is so easy and speedy to make, I can find time to rustle it up for breakfast, brunch, lunch, supper, or late-night snack, whatever state I’m in.
If solo salvation turns into brunch for a roomful of people, obviously use a bigger pan and I would think 2 cans of tomatoes could provide enough liquid—if there’s room in the pan—for up to 8 eggs.