I know the season of the almighty tomato has passed, but there are actually some pretty impressive hydroponic tomatoes showing up on those sad supermarket shelves (I'm sorry, but nothing beats a shining mountain of heirloom tomatoes at the market). What brightened my day even more was seing that glorious Cento can of San Marzano tomatoes--best sauce-making tomatoes in the world!!! **happy dance** I don't know about you, but I find myself craving rich tomato sauces in the winter. They are warming, comforting, and are really hard to screw up, so they typically make for a quick meal.
There has been a lot of talk in the food world about poaching eggs in tomato sauce (or just the combination of egg and tomato), and for good reason. I often saw this in Spain, but paired with potatoes. My best example would be patatas bravas served with an egg sunny side up (check out my previous recipe on Patatas Bravas). It's that miracle combination of a velvety, golden yolk with rich tomato. It can't get any better, I promise.
In short, I just made a savory tomato sauce, didn't drain the water retained by the tomatoes, and when the flavors were well established, I cracked some eggs into the tomato sauce to cook until just set. I think that the velvety egg yolk stirred into the tomato sauce makes a really fabulous soup...which gives me an idea... Another alternative could be to add some roasted red peppers to the tomato sauce to intensify the flavor. A few Spanish piquillo peppers, if you could get your hands on them, would also be ideal.
Allow me to present you with the recipe:
4 Ripe tomatoes (or a can of San Marzano whole tomatoes), puréed
4 Cloves garlic, crushed
1 onion, chopped
Pimentón (smoked paprika)
Chili powder (Chimayo chili)
As you can see, we only poached two eggs this time and it was really enough. The presentation is beautiful with a simple soup bowl and that beautiful egg nestled in its warm bed of tomato joy. If you have more of an appetite, you can of course increase the number of eggs, just make sure not to crowd the pan so that it is just one big egg white with some yellow dots. Either get a larger pan or take it easy on the eggs.
As for the tomato sauce, you can really prepare it however you feel like that day. Mine is more spiced, but an herbed tomato sauce (with thyme, sage, oregano, etc) would be just as lovely. My sauce ended up having a sultry savory flavor accented by the bay leaf and smoked paprika. It tasted like so many dishes I had in the tapas bars in Spain and in the homes of the families who took care of me. To me that is comfort food, and since that was the objective of this dish my spice combination really did the trick.
First you heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat. Throw in the onion and sauté for a few minutes, then add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Stir in the pimentón, chili powder, and bay leaf and heat for a few seconds with the onion mixture until you start smelling those spices bloom. At this point you add a splash or two of sherry and scrape up any bits that may have stuck to the bottom. Pour in the fresh tomatoes and stir well to combine. If your sauce is too thick, you can splash in a little water or chicken stock, but I don't think it will be necessary. Simmer the sauce for a good 10-15 minutes and crack in the eggs around the 12 minutes mark. They should poach for about 3-4 minutes and should be ready to plate.
It was rather soupy, so I served it in a soup bowl. If yours turns out thicker you can serve it on a slice of hearty, rustic bread or over rice or potatoes. However you serve it, it will be sure to satisfy.
Keep warm, keep hungry, and qué aproveches!