Eggs and tomatoes were meant for each other. From the Neapolitan “Eggs in Purgatory” to the Mexican huevos rancheros to the Chinese Stir-Fried Eggs with Tomatoes, to the old-fashioned American scrambled eggs with ketchup, everyone seems to love this epic combination of flavors.
Here’s another Italian take on the theme, this time from Lazio and Tuscany: fritttine in trippa, literally meaning “little frittatas made like tripe”. Small frittatas, thin as crèpes, are cut into strips to resemble tripe and simmered very briefly in a simple tomato sauce. The Romans like to add a bit of their local mentuccia (mint) and a nice grating of pecorino romano on top. Although it has practically the same ingredients as Campania’s uova in Purgatorio, you’ll be surprised just how different this dish is. Just shows that a subtle changes in technique and flavorings can make a huge difference in cooking.
- 450 ml (2 cups) simple homemade tomato sauce
For the frittatine:
- 6-8 eggs
- A few sprigs of fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 75g (2-1/2 oz) grated Parmesan or pecorino romano cheese (optional)
- Olive oil
To finish the dish (optional):
- A few fresh leaves of mentuccia (Roman mint)
- More grated cheese, to taste
Begin by starting your tomato sauce. You can really use any of the basic recipes found in our Tomato Sauce 101 post, although probably most common would be a sauce made with a soffritto of garlic or onion gently sautéed in olive oil. Once you’ve added the tomatoes, you can let the sauce simmer while you make the eggs.
Scramble the eggs with the parsley and cheese. Then, fry a ladleful at a time to a well oiled frying pan and brown on both sides to make little frittatas, following the basic technique for making frittatas—with the major difference that, given how very thin these frittatine are, they will only need a minute or two on each side.
As each frittatine is done, set them aside and let them cool completely while you make the next one. When they are all done, roll them up and cut it into thin (1cm or 1/3in) strips.
When the sauce is done, add the egg strips to the saucepan, along with the extra grated cheese and/or mint if you like, and mix everything well.
As soon as the mixture comes back to the simmer, serve, with grated cheese on the side for those who want some more.
As mentioned, you can vary the character of the dish considerably by your choice of tomato sauce, from light to substantial, from spice to mild. Some recipes even call for a meat sauce, which would obviously make for a real substantial second course. On the other hand, a simple fresh tomato sauce could make a fine antipasto. It’s up to your needs and mood. Of course, the dish is particularly good made with fresh, ripe Summer tomatoes at the peak of their season, but canned tomatoes will produce a more than acceptable result. One other small variation among recipes is whether or not to add cheese to the egg mixture. I do, but some recipes reserve the use of cheese for later, either to mix into the dish along with the egg strips at the end or as a topping. And then there’s the choice of cheese, which seems to vary by region: Parmesan in Tuscany, pecorino in Lazio.
Another, rather upscale variation is the baked version of the dish: the eggs are layered in a casserole with sauce and grated cheese, almost as if you were making lasagna, and baked in a hot oven for just 10-15 minutes until sizzling and slightly brown on top. You can use individual gratin dishes for an especially elegant presentation.
The dish is popular in both Lazio and Tuscany. Most sources I’ve seen credit the origins of the dish to Lazio, but I am not going to wade into the debate. I’ve learned my lesson!