Shakshuka, soft poached eggs in a steaming, flavorful tomato broth, is a favorite dish of mine. Puttanesca is an Italian sauce invented in Naples and typically made with tomatoes, garlic, olives, anchovies, chili peppers and capers. I thought it might be fun to combine these two dishes and poach some eggs in a puttanesca-style tomato sauce, and it turned out to be a delicious dish! You can serve your puttanesca poached eggs with a crusty loaf of bread, a crisp green salad and your favorite wine.
In a large cast iron pan or saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the anchovies and crushed red pepper and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another 1-2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring for another 1-2 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes with their juices. Stir in the olives, capers and sprigs of thyme or basil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and bring to a simmer.
Simmer the sauce over low heat, stirring occasionally, until it thickens and reduces a bit, about 20-30 minutes. Season again with salt and pepper, if needed. Discard the thyme sprigs.
Carefully add the eggs into the sauce one at a time. Cover the saucepan and cook until the whites are firm and egg yolks are cooked to your desired consistency. Garnish with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and a splash of vinegar, if desired.