A fabulous Tuscan Breakfast or Brunch: Poached Eggs atop Ciabatta with Tuscan Salsa

This fabulous dish is quick, easy, soooo delicious, and perfect for breakfast or a stylish brunch. It is featured in my third Antonio Cortese Mystery novel, Death in Abundance, where it is prepared by Antonio’s Zia (aunt) Chiara on a lovely morning near Montepulciano. You can either take a loaf of ciabatta bread and cut it into servable size pieces or buy sandwich size ciabatta rolls which is what I did.

The Tuscan salsa is simple. It contains cooked pancetta (or you can sub bacon or prosciutto), tomatoes, shallots, parsley, a splash of good extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper. You first want to cook, drain, and cool the pancetta before mixing it all together.

The salsa is beautiful and flavorful. Make extra if you want and serve it atop eggs, fish or meats.

To toast the ciabatta, I first brushed them with olive oil (or feel free to use butter) and toasted them under the broiler.

I suggest before poaching the eggs that you crack them into a small bowl. It does three things: you can check for shells, make sure the yolk remains whole, and it allows you to slide them gently into the simmering water.

The next step is to poach the eggs. I do not consider myself an expert on this. If you find it intimidating, there are plenty of tips to be found online if you look. A couple of tips are as follows: add a splash of vinegar to the water (such as white wine vinegar, or apple cider). This will help the egg whites to hold their shape. Then, once you get the water boiling, lower your heat to a simmer. Cook for three to five minutes depending on how runny you want your yolks.

All right, you’re almost ready to eat. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon, allowing the excess water to drain off. If you want, you can pat the eggs gently with a cloth or paper towel to get them drier. I didn’t bother.

Place the eggs atop the ciabatta rolls and top with the Tuscan salsa. If you desire, you can top it off with some Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano. I would do it with a vegetable peeler for the most beautiful presentation. I forgot to do this before taking my photos. As you can see, it’s quite beautiful without it!


  • Ingredients:
  • Italian Salsa (enough for 4 servings):
  • 2 ounces pancetta–chopped
  • two Roma tomatoes-diced small
  • one small shallot–finely minced
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley–chopped
  • a splash of Extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • Other Ingredients:
  • 2 eggs per person
  • two halves of a ciabatta roll per person– sliced and served open-faced
  • olive oil or melted butter (to brush on ciabatta)
  • Pecorino Romano–shaved with a vegetable peeler (optional)

Frankie’s Tips:

You can buy pancetta by the slice at most deli counters, or you can buy it already diced at Trader Joe’s. Feel free to substitute bacon or prosciutto.

I realized after my photographs that I forgot to add the Pecorino Romano which is optional. If you add it, I recommend shaving it with a vegetable peeler makes a gorgeous presentation.

  • Procedure:
  • Chop your pancetta (or bacon or proscitto–see Frankie’s Tips below) and brown in a skillet. Drain on a paper towel and set aside to cool.
  • Prepare Italian Salsa. Set aside.
  • Pre-heat broiler. Brush cut side of ciabatta bread with olive oil or melted butter.
  • Choose a skillet with a lid for poaching. Your best bet is to go with a 10 to 12-inch nonstick skillet. Fill the skillet with 2 inches of water. Bring the water to a boil.
  • While water is heating, toast your ciabatta under the broiler. Set aside.
  • Add a little bit of vinegar to the water to help the whites set quickly. Apple cider, or white wine vinegar are good choices because they won’t color the eggs.
  • Crack the eggs into a ramekin or small glass bowl. You only want to use it if the yolk is not broken.
  • Reduce water to a simmer and slide the eggs gently into the water. Cook about 3 minutes for a runny yolk, or up to 5 minutes for a firm yolk.
  • Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon. Gently dry tops with a paper or cloth towel. Place atop toasted ciabatta. Garnish with Italian Salsa, and shaved Pecorino cheese if you so desire.

Now it’s time to be thankful and enjoy this flavorful work of art! Buon appetito!

    Announcing the release of my third novel – Death in Abundance

    Set in the beautiful Tuscan hill town of Montepulciano

    Many of you know that I am a novelist as well as a food blogger. I’m excited to announce the release of my third novel, Death in Abundance, in my series, The Antonio Cortese Mysteries.

    Antonio is a former detective turned Italian pizzeria owner. All three titles are set primarily in Tuscany, where his mother was raised and where he spent several weeks every summer while growing up, learning Italian cooking from his Nonna, mother, and aunts.

    The books are rich in Italian cooking scenes, and provide a lavish portrait of the people, culture, and place of Italy, all interlaced with riveting mysteries which need to be solved.

    In Death in Abundance, Antonio is about to board a plane home to Seattle when he receives a call from his fiancée, Gabriella, a colonel in the Italian Carabinieri. She found out that an accident which took the life of her brother—an investigator with the Italian Wine Commission, and his wife—was no accident at all. The case belongs to the Polizia di Stato, but when Covid-19 hinders them, Gabriella goes rogue with the investigation. Antonio refuses to let her go it alone and becomes embroiled in danger alongside her. As more suspicious deaths pile up, and the pandemic threatens to shut down Italy, every moment is critical.

    All titles are available as hardcovers, paperbacks, and eBooks. Autographed copies are available on my website at www.frankcurtiss.com (click button below).

    All books are also available on Amazon.com. eBooks are available at no charge to Kindle Unlimited members.

    In the first novel, Deception in Siena, Antonio returns to Tuscany for the first time in five years after a tragic event sent his life into a tailspin. He returns looking for healing among the people and place he loves. There he is drawn into a treacherous web of intrigue when he and his young cousin, Giulia, are run off the road while cycling, putting Giulia in a coma fighting for her life.

    In the second novel Antonio is dealing with PTSD and still trying to get his feet under him when his world seems to crumble once again.  

    Gabriella, the beautiful Carabinieri detective from Tuscany, has breathed new life into him. When a suspicious accident takes the life of her brother and his wife. Antonio wants to be with her. As he makes plans to do so, he gets a desperate call from his Uncle Nicolo, lead detective in Siena. Antonio’s cousin, Raphael, a policeman in Firenze, has disappeared.

    When Antonio returns to Tuscany, the search for Raphael embroils he and Nicolo in a dangerous web of child prostitution, human trafficking, and the Nigerian mob—all as the Covid19 epidemic begins its deadly spread throughout Italy and Antonio’s home state of Washington. The clock is ticking and there is far more at stake than meets the eye.

    If you’re a mystery fan and yet to read any of the books in this series, I invite you to order a set of all three books, available in hardcover or paperback. Available only on my website at www.frankcurtiss.com

    Ciao e grazie mille! Enjoy your adventures in Tuscany!