A.M.’s with Eggs and Tomatoes on Toast
If last Sunday had been a normal Sunday, I would have had 11 a.m. brunch plans with friends. When you live alone, brunch plans are your equivalent to brewing a pot of coffee and starting the morning with homemade pancakes in your pajamas.
But last Sunday wasn’t a normal Sunday. I’d spent many hours of the prior week hunched over my computer keyboard. By the time the weekend rolled around, my achy body didn’t care how much good company brunch plans promised; I was not going anywhere. So instead, I rolled out of bed put on the Beatles’ White Album, made myself a cup of pour-over coffee, and pulled a few cookbooks off the shelf.
That’s how I found Marco Canora’s skillet eggs and tomatoes, a hearty, but easy recipe that appeared to have been snooping through my pantry. It called for canned tomatoes. Eggs. Oregano, pepperocini, basil, garlic. Check. Check. Check. I had everything. So I turned up the Beatles and slipped on an apron.
Under my knife, whole gloves of garlic fell into thin, transparent slices. A light green, Italian pepper transformed into a tiny minced mound. I swept these seasonings into a skillet with olive oil and breathed in as warm, toasted smells filled the air. Then, I crushed tomatoes into the pan and added eggs.
I moved methodically, giving just as much attention to the way the tomatoes concentrated over the heat as I devoted to friends’ stories over brunch. That jammy, sweet skillet mixture reminded me of Spain, and the juicy tomatoes that people in Barcelona rub over crusty toast for breakfast. If a friend had been there, I might have shared that memory with her. Perhaps we would have fallen into conversation about Tunisia and Italy (where Canora’s family is from), which also have traditions of eggs and tomatoes.
But we probably wouldn’t have. Instead, we would have talked men, work, and movies. Only when our conversation began to turn up questions like “Do you like your meal?” or “Do you want to try a bite?” would we have truly noticed the food.
By myself in the kitchen, though, I couldn’t help but give my full attention to the way the egg whites melted into the cooked tomatoes. I marveled at how the yolks, nestled into the tomatoes, heated but never fully cooked. I was so delighted with these eggs that I packed up the extras and took them to my friend Hannah after brunch. She really needed to try a bite. Even if my body was too tired to manage an 11 a.m. brunch date—and even if eggs and tomatoes had made surprisingly good morning company—I couldn’t give up my true Sunday morning tradition: brunch with friends.
Skillet Eggs and Tomatoes
Adapted from Marco Canora’s Salt to Taste
Eggs and tomatoes make for both a hearty, saucy brunch or a super easy dinner. Use this recipe for either, and turn to it when you’ve run low on groceries. You’re likely to have all the ingredients in your pantry.
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon thinly sliced garlic (about 2 cloves)
Pinch of minced peperoncini or red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon dried oregano
12 canned whole tomatoes (from 28-ounce can)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
6 slices country white bread
Separate the eggs, keeping the yolks in the shell and reserving 3 egg whites.
In a medium skillet (about 10 inches), combine the olive oil, garlic, peperoncini, and oregano. Turn on heat to medium-high and cook garlic mixture, until fragrant and garlic is beginning to fry, about 2 minutes.
Using your hands, crush the tomatoes in a bowl. Add the tomatoes to the skillet, reserving the juice to avoid splattering. Increase heat to high and add tomato juice, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until tomatoes begin to concentrate and are longer watery, 3-5 minutes. Add basil.
Reduce heat to low, and add egg whites. Stirring constantly, cook until whites are opaque, about 1 minute.
Remove the pan from the heat and using a rubber spatula, spread tomato mixture evenly through the pan. With the back of a spoon, create six small indentations in the tomato mixture. Carefully slide an egg yolk into each indentation, and cover until eggs are warmed through, about 3 minutes for runny eggs.
While eggs are setting, toast the bread. Gently spoon sauce and egg yolk over toast and serve.
For printable recipe, click here.