Any time of day, this flavorful dish is a crowd pleaser!
We love eggs in purgatory, the Italian version of shakshuka, a spicy tomato sauce in which eggs are simmered. It is a delicious breakfast, brunch, or supper dish, that is popular around the world.
Let’s make a swap!
But for a different take on this dish, I thought it would be fun to substitute another protein for the eggs – New England sea scallops, one of our favorites. This is going to find its way again and again to my table, any time of day!
Choose the right scallop
The scallops I used are a local product that is packed “dry” which means they do not swim around in a preservative solution to prolong life. Chemical preservatives aside, this soaking process robs the scallops of their flavor and bloats them with extra water we pay handsomely for. Additionally, it is difficult to get any kind of sear on these water-logged babies.
But if you are not near the northeast, you can also substitute any local scallop, or even firm fish cut into large cubes, or use large gulf shrimp which are widely available frozen.
Bulking it out
When I make Eggs in Purgatory, I usually toss in potatoes and olives. I used little baby potatoes here, but you can substitute any favorite potato that will hold its shape. Pitted calamata olives were my choice, but I could have used any of my favorites! This time around, I seasoned with thyme and oregano, and sprinkled with basil at the end.
We have heat from two sources here, the Serrano, and a bit of cayenne. Adjust to your own preference, or use a sweet pepper if you prefer. This is, after all, supposed to be purgatory and not hell!
Easy on the cheese
Cheese is delicious in this dish, but since my husband’s heart attack, and with dairy-challenged family, I’ve had to be stingy with any cheese. Goat cheese is lower in saturated fat than cow cheese, and it is easier for the lactose intolerant to digest. It’s also pretty tasty! So, I added just a bit to the pot, and it was perfect, but you can also omit it altogether.
Add some crusty bread or whole grain pita to sop up the sauce, and you’ll have all you need!
Sea Scallops and Baby Potatoes in Purgatory
- 1 lb. sea scallops, dry
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 Serrano pepper, diced
- 4 cloves garlic
- Splash of dry white wine
- 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 tsp. each thyme and oregano
- Pinch of cayenne
- 10 to 12 oz. baby potatoes
- ¼ cup chopped olives
- 4 oz. goat cheese, optional
- One small bunch basil
Remove the muscle from the sea scallops and pat them dry. Sprinkle with salt and refrigerate until the sauce is ready.
In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high and add the onion. Sauté until soft and just barely starting to brown on the edges. Add the pepper and garlic, and cook an additional minute or so, then add wine to deglaze the pan.
Add the tomatoes, breaking them up, the thyme, oregano, and cayenne, as well as salt and pepper to your taste. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for a half hour, then add the potatoes and olives.
Once the potatoes are just about cooked, nestle the scallops in the sauce and add the olives. Break up the goat cheese and scatter around along with the basil. Cover, and cook for five to 7 minutes or until the scallops are cooked.
Garnish with a little more fresh basil and serve with some flavorful crusty bread!
There are always many possibilities.
Seafood options – You can substitute any firm fish, cubed, for the scallops. You can also use shrimp, baby scallops, or a combination of several types of seafood.
Vegan option – Substitute cubed firm tofu for the scallops, omit the cheese. A really delicious option!
Last minute guests – That jar of Rao’s pasta sauce will work nicely here. This brand is quite tasty and has no chemicals or preservatives, just recognizable food, so it’s the one I recommend to keep on the shelf for those days when you don’t even have a half hour.
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