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 simple 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, we offered to help our friends in the village cook for their Italian country dinner, ‘la cena contadina’. Our little group arrived to find the women in the kitchen busily preparing typical Tuscan cuisine. These dishes have endured for centuries and were once prepared in times of poverty and war. Today these dishes have become more about using only the simplest yet purest of ingredients to allow the flavors to shine through on their own.
In the kitchen, Luciana, who has ruled the kitchen for many years, was busily preparing thin little omelets. She would crack a few eggs in a bowl; throw in a handful of parmesan, salt, pepper then fry it up as a thin omelet. She would then toss it onto a board to cool. She did this over and over while she happily chatted with those around her. In the kitchen prep area next door, our little group was relegated to cutting pasta into strips for frying and spreading Tuscany-ish toppings onto crostini as we prepped for a dinner for 100.
I finally wandered back 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 or one could not afford.
Back in the US, I decided to give this dish a try. This recipe is absolutely a keeper and one to add to my quick weeknight dinner options. Cook up a quick batch of simple tomato sauce. While the sauce is simmering, crack a few eggs and make the omelets. Once cool, roll, slice and bathe in the tomato sauce. That is it. (This one is even good enough for your gluten free friends.) I highly recommend you add this one to your weeknight repertoire as well. I will thank Luciana for you!
Trippa Finta (Fake Tripe)
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 Parmigiano 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. Sauté until the onion is soft and translucent, about 7-10 minutes. Add the tomatoes with 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 to the tomato sauce and stir gently to incorporate. Allow to simmer for a few minutes to warm through. Sprinkle some additional basil on top and serve with plenty of grated Parmigiano
Joe and Michele Becci are a brother and sister team who love all things Ital ian. Together, from opposite coasts, they coauthor the blog OurItalianTable.com.