Wait! Before you hit the back button, this recipe is NOT made with tripe! Yes, I know this unpretentious offal strikes fear in the hearts of many. (It actually can be extremely tasty if prepared correctly but that is a topic for another day.) Luckily, this Tuscan recipe takes its name from its resemblance to the Florentine dish, trippa fiorentina. The dish is actually made with delicate strips of egg bathed in a simple, delicious tomato sauce.
On a recent visit to Montalcino, I was asked to help the women in the village cook for their Italian country dinner, la cena contadina. Our little band of friends arrived to find the women in the kitchen busily preparing typical Tuscan country dishes. Luciana, who has ruled the kitchen for many years, was busily preparing thin little omelets. Crack a few eggs in a bowl, throw in a handful of parmesan, salt, pepper. Fry it up as a thin omelet. Toss it onto a board to cool. Repeat. And repeat. In the kitchen prep area, our little group was relegated to cutting pasta into strips for frying and spreading Tuscany-ish toppings onto crostini.
I finally wandered into the kitchen to see what the ladies were up to at the stove. The little pile of omelets had now grown into a rather alarmingly sized stack. I asked Luciana what she was making to which she responded – ‘trippa’ with a smile on her face. Not sure I heard her correctly, my little mind struggled to work out if maybe she was making tripe with eggs. Noticing the confusion on my face, she smiled wider, laughed and added ‘finta!’ Fake tripe. She then went on to explain that the eggs are cut into strips to resemble strips of tripe. Eggs were used when tripe was either not available, one could not afford, or perhaps you were just in the mood for eggs instead. Oh, those clever Italians…..
The dinner and the trippa finta turned out to be a huge success. A good time was had by all!
Back in the US, I decided to give this dish a try. And wow, this is a tasty, quick, delicious weeknight meal. Cook up a quick batch of tomato sauce. Toss some eggs into a pan. Slice and bathe. That is it. Even good enough for your gluten free friends. So add this one to your weeknight repertoire….I will thank Luciana for you!
For the tomato sauce:
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 (28 ounce) cans diced or whole San Marzano tomatoes with juice
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Bunch fresh basil
For the eggs:
- 8 eggs
- Grated Parmesan or pecorino
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Unsalted butter
Make the tomato sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add in the onion and garlic. Saute until the onion is soft and translucent, about 7-10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juice. Bring to a boil, stir, then lower the heat to medium low. Simmer, uncovered, until sauce thickens, about 30-45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Roll up a handful of basil leaves and cut into thin strips. Add to the sauce and stir to incorporate.
While the sauce is simmering, prepare the eggs. In a small bowl, whisk 2 eggs with a handful of grated Parmesan. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. In a nonstick pan, heat about 1 tablespoon of butter over medium low heat until it foams and then subsides. Pour mixture into the pan and cook until set and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Slide from pan onto a plate to allow to cool. Repeat three times with the remaining eggs.
When the omelets are cool, roll each one and cut into ¼ inch wide strips. Add the egg strips back into the sauce and stir to incorporate. Allow to simmer for a few minutes to warm through. Sprinkle some additional basil on top and serve with plenty of grated Parmesan!