This deliciously savoury, speedy supper from chef and broadcaster Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is the perfect way to use up overripe tomatoes. Tomatoes should really be stored at room temperature, which keeps them juicy and sweet, but also means that they ripen apace. If you find yourself with a couple of specimens that are heading into squishy territory – just a little too ripe to slice for a salad – this is the way to go. And if you feel greens are a must, serve the egg and tomato atop a layer of wilted spinach on the toast.
Slice the tomatoes in half around the ‘equator’. Holding the skin side of one half in your hand, grate the tomato flesh on a box grater, into a bowl. Keep going until you have only the skin left in your hand and a nice juicy pile of tomato pulp beneath.
Heat the oil in a small, non-stick frying pan over a medium-low heat and add the garlic. Let it sizzle briefly until just starting to colour.
Add the tomato pulp and some salt and pepper. Increase the heat, bring to a brisk simmer and cook for about 5 minutes, to reduce the liquid down a little.
Meanwhile, break the egg into cup.
Carefully tip the egg gently into the middle of the simmering tomato mixture. Turn the heat down low and cook for 5 minutes or so until the white of the egg is set. You can also baste the egg with the tomato ‘sauce’ to help set the top, or you can flip it, to have it ‘easy over’.
Meanwhile, toast and butter your bread.
Using a large spatula, scoop the egg carefully out of the pan and place it on the toast. Pour the remaining tomato sauce from the pan over the egg. Season again with salt and pepper and tuck in straight away.
Tips and swaps
You can use overripe cherry tomatoes here if you like – about 200g will do. There is no need to grate them. Just cut each one in half and give it a squish to get the juices flowing. Throw them into the hot frying pan when the garlic is nicely coloured.
Spice it up Doctor your tomato sauce with a pinch of spice – either ground cumin or curry powder. A spoon-tip of fiery harissa stirred into the tomatoes is also excellent.
Brunch option Add scraps of ham or cooked bacon or sausage to the sauce, or at the end.