Eggs….the ultimate food packaging….universally loved from east to west. This painting by Bonnie Lalley is so redolent of spring..which, if the plethora of snowdrops gathering forces around our garden are anything to go by, is just around the corner. From earliest times eggs have been associated with rites and traditions…symbolic of new life, rebirth etc etc. Hundreds of years ago eggs were forbidden at this Lenten time because of their ‘richness’ and it was traditional in France to search for and collect eggs on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday and have them blessed on Easter Sunday, ready for their prolific consumption over Eastertide.
And the egg dish inspired by Bonnie’s painting is rather appropriate, as perhaps I too should not be eating then at Lent, – but I am! And so, the recipe for this painting is as the title, Eggs in Purgatory! But I like to use duck eggs. Spring is the best time to get duck eggs and they are so good for you.
Duck eggs have twice the nutritional value of a chicken egg and stay fresher longer due to their thicker shell. Duck eggs are richer with more albumen making cakes and pastries fluffier and richer and they have more Omega 3 fatty acids.
And I did not know but duck eggs are an alkaline producing food, one of the few foods that leave your body more alkaline which is a great benefit to cancer patients as cancer cells do not thrive in an alkaline environment. Chicken eggs are an acid food leaving your body more acid….apparently! Anyway…before you nod off…here is the recipe!
Uova in Purgatorio
1 garlic clove
2 tbsps olive oil
400 gm passata
Fresh basil leaves
Salt and black pepper
4 duck eggs
About 50 gm of parmesan or pecorino grated
In a frying pan or skillet, cook the peeled garlic gently in the olive oil for about two minutes. Add the passata, several leaves of basil torn, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for about 15 minutes over a low heat until the sauce is thickened. Take out the garllc clove. Break an egg into a cup. Make a well with a spoon in the sauce and slide in the egg. Repeat with the other eggs. Sprinkle the parmesan over. Cover and cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the eggs are to your liking – I like mine runny! You can spice up the sauce, which I do occasionally by adding a little chopped fresh red chilli.
If such dishes are served in purgatory…’twill be fine by me!