Tomatoes and Eggs

The earliest American tomato recipes in print date to the third quarter of the 18th century. This particular recipe is probably Spanish in origin and was described in West Indian journals in the 17th century. Tomatoes were introduced to Williamsburg diners by Dr. John de Sequeyra in the mid-18th century.

18th Century

Peel the skins from a dozen large tomatas, put four ounces butter in a frying pan, add some salt, pepper, and a little chopped onion, fry them a few minutes, add tomatas and chop them while frying; when nearly done, break in six eggs, stir them quickly, and serve them up.

Randolph, Mary. “The Virginia Housewife”

21st Century

  • 1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes
  • 4 oz. of butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 6 large eggs, whipped (May use egg substitutes)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley (optional)
  1. Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent.
  2. Add the tomatoes, crushing them with your hands as they are put into the pan. Cook the mixture until the tomato juices have evaporated.
  3. Add the eggs and stir until they are set.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Garnish with minced parsley.

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7 Responses to “Tomatoes and Eggs”

  1. June 28th, 2012

    Cherryn Whisler says:

    I don’t usually like cooked tomatoes, but this recipe sounds really yummy!

  2. August 30th, 2012

    I have a garden I plant Better Boys, and German Johnsons,which one would be better to cook this dish with? Or what type(s) would they use back in the 19th Century?

    In the Nuns Cake video Mr. Frank Clark said that you worked with several different types of eggs(the Bantum if I’m not mistaken)what words would Mary Randolph use to describe the amount of eggs?


    • August 31st, 2012

      Historic Foodways says:

      The tomatoes that you use won’t matter too much as long as they aren’t soft and mushy or bitter and acidic. The tomato should be able to be cut up and still hold its shape fairly well when cooking it with the eggs. When Frank mentioned the egg differences, he was referring to about four or five different chicken varieties we have here at Colonial Williamsburg. They all taste much the same but that has a lot to do with what the chicken eats and the breed. Some are white, others are brown or lightly speckled. Mary Randolph doesn’t have specific words to describe the eggs. However she, like other cookbook authors of the day, gives a sort of generic amount if the recipe is for a large quantity. If there is a sort of standard size egg of the 18th century they would be close to medium. Hope this helps. Thanks much.

  3. March 3rd, 2013

    Greg Linko says:

    Believe it or not my grandmother use to make this. Her parents were from the northern part of Italy. It is a great recipe. Use to eat this for breakfast. Thanks guys brought back some great memories.

  4. March 24th, 2019

    Robert Sharkey says:

    Looks a bit like the Italian, “Eggs in Purgatory”

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