Sometimes, Mamma's food is just exactly what you need. Simple, easy, and warms your heart just like a mother's embrace. A few weeks ago, Vincenzo made me his mamma's sauce with eggs. I remember having this dish in Abruzzo with mamma Concetta cooking in the kitchen and it was delicious. I had almost forgotten about it until Vincenzo suggested we make it.
This dish is so easy to put together with ingredients you probably already have in your refrigerator and pantry. The history of this combination goes back to rustic cooking and trying to make ends meet when trying to feed a large farm family. Most families had chickens and fresh eggs, lots of tomatoes canned in the pantry and so these are the two main ingredients.
Make the sauce early and let it simmer for at least on hour or more on the top of the stove. It's a simple dish with fresh eggs cooked directly in the sauce - almost like poaching. Your house will smell like you are right in Italy with an Italian grandmother cooking for you. You can let the sauce sit until you're ready to eat, add the eggs and simmer again for another 20-25 minutes. Serve with nice, crusty bread to "fare la scarpetta" or clean the plate with all of the sauce left in the plate when your done eating the tender eggs.
Give it a try on these rainy, dreary days and you will have an instant feeling of days gone by. Back when times were simpler and the food was uncomplicated.
Concetta’s Mother’s Tomato Sauce with Eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 stalk of celery, chopped small (add a few of the celery leaves chopped as well)
¼ small onion, chopped small
¼ small zucchini (diced into very small pieces)
1 clove garlic (leave whole)
1 large can (28 ounces) of whole tomatoes ( San Marzano tomatoes are a great choice)
10 ounces strained tomato sauce (Note: I love to use Pomi brand in the box)
Salt to taste
Basil (fresh, chopped)
Parmesan cheese (grated)
4 to 6 eggs (or more depending on how many people are eating)
In a medium to large saute pan, drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the chopped celery, onions, and zucchini. Sauté for 2-3 minutes over medium heat. Add the can of whole tomatoes, squeezing them with your hands to break them apart as you add each one. Next, add the strained tomato sauce and stir well. Add the whole garlic clove at the end. Cover and let simmer on low heat for 60-90 minutes. Take it off the heat and let it sit until you are ready to serve.
You can start this sauce in the morning and let it sit on the stove until you need it later. The longer it sits, the better it tastes. The vegetables are cut so small that in the end, they just melt into the sauce. You don’t actually get pieces of them in your mouth.
30 minutes before you're ready to eat, place the whole eggs carefully on to of the sauce, each in their own little space on top of the sauce. Cover and let simmer on medium low heat for about 20-25 minutes.
Just prior to serving, retrieve the garlic clove from the sauce and add salt to taste. This is enough sauce for 6-8 people.
I like this sauce and egg topped with fresh cut basil and grated Parmesan cheese!