This article was originally featured in The 30 Second Wine Advisor's FoodLetter on Thursday, May 11, 2006.

Uova in trippa alla Romana

INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)

1 generous sprig flat-leaf Italian parsley
2 fresh large eggs
Sea salt
Black pepper
1 tablespoon (15g) olive oil
1 cup (240ml) tomato sauce
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese


1. Mince the parsley (there should be enough to make about 2 tablespoons). Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk in the parsley, salt and pepper to taste.

2. Pour about half the olive oil into a large nonstick skillet and wipe it around with a paper towel to coat the entire surface. Put the skillet over medium-high heat and, when it's hot, pour in the egg mixture, taking care to spread it over the entire surface in a thin layer. Cook until it's firm on one side - this should take only a minute or two - then carefully turn it and cook briefly on the other side. (I made turning easier by sliding it out onto a large plate, then carefully inverting the plate to turn it back into the skillet upside down.) When the omelet is done, put it on a lightly greased plate and set aside.

3. Heat the tomato sauce in a saucepan, or if you prefer, make a quick sauce by blending into a puree a couple of canned tomatoes and their juice or a large, fresh tomato, skinned and seeded, and cooking the result with a bit of minced garlic gently sauteed in a little olive oil.

4. Preheat the oven to 400F (200C). Lightly grease an oven-proof baking dish or casserole. Roll the omelet like a rug and, starting at one end, cut it crosswise into thin (1/4-inch or 0.65cm) strands. These soft strands, cloaked in thick tomato-and-cheese sauce, will give the "tripe" texture. Slice the mint leaves into fine julienne strips. Gently toss the egg strands, tomato sauce, mint and about three-fourths of the grated cheese to mix, and put the result into the baking dish. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top, and bake for about 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

It really doesn't taste like tripe. But those tender-soft egg ribbons with just a hint of chewiness do make a toothsome treat, and the flavors of egg, tomato, cheese and mint go together in an unexpected but surprisingly appealing combination. Best tripe I ever ate!

WINE MATCH: The combination of tomato sauce and cheese bring this meatless dish right up to meet a Chianti or other acidic Italian red; it should also go fine with a Syrah or Grenache-Syrah-Mourvèdre blend. A problem with a profoundly corked Syrah forced me at the last minute to substitute a softer Merlot, which was OK but didn't fare quite as well with the tomatoes.

This recipe came from the 2002 cookbook "Rustico: Regional Italian Country Cooking," by Micol Negrin. It's too early for me to review the book, as I've just started looking it over and cooking from it; but I love the concept, and I'm impressed so far. It's a fat, 416-page book with 200 rustic country recipes from all 20 Italian regions, with photos and sidebar stories about Italian life and culture. If you'd like to read more about it on, or even consider buying it on the basis of this limited preview, you'll find it at the following link for $22.05 in hardcover, a 37 percent discount.
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