Someone pointed out to me a few weeks ago that this site has not a single recipe in the archives for egg salad. However, unlike the time I realized the broccoli archives boasted but a single recipe (and quickly sought to populate it) or the time I accepted that a quickie from-scratch homemade chicken noodle soup deserves a place in every arsenal, the egg salad-shaped hole in the archives went unnoticed less due to editorial oversight and more because, well, you know: egg salad; it’s pretty dull. Could anything be more uninspired than an amalgamation of smashed-up hard-boiled eggs and the dreaded mayonnaise? I mean, have you seen the yellow, flavorless mounds of dubious origin and assembly date most delis scoop onto a slice of bread and try to pass off as lunch? It would hardly make an enthusiast out of you. Or anyone.
But for those of us who see past the lack of beauty-queen stature and fervor around it, we know egg salad can be rather delicious if made properly, which is to say, at home, with perfectly cooked eggs and just enough dressing to cling, not drown them. At home, I make three small additions that I think transform it from the unglamorous status-quo to something I find crunchy, bright and absolutely perfect on a slice of whole-grain toasted bread in the middle of the day. The first is that I love to use coarse, or whole-grain Dijon mustard. Not only is it the prettiest thing in my fridge, the combination of the faintly crisp/crackly seeds and its milder flavor are heavenly here, adding texture and just enough kick to the eggs. The second is finely minced shallot, just a little. You could use red onion, too, but I think the texture is key. You want it to be noticeable enough that you enjoy it but not so loud that it upstages the star, kind of like surprise guests at a halftime show.
The last thing is the one that will make you say, “Wha? No, no way.” but trust me, a spoonful of lightly pickled celery is wonderful here. I talked about my love of this a bit in the book, where I put it on a fingerling salad with a sharp dressing but I promise, once you make it, it has a habit of showing up everywhere, from chopped to tuna salads. It adds a little accent and crunch, and once you fall in love with it here, it will be impossible to make it any other way, so consider yourself warned.
Events: After a lazy month I affectionately referred to as Sloth January, things are getting fun again. On Friday, I’ll be on WNYC’s Last Chance Foods segment of All Things Considered with Melissa Clark and Amy Eddings discussing the finer points of hummus and pros and cons of chickpea-peeling. (Do I have the best job, or what?). This weekend, I’ll be heading to Montreal for the very first time ever, I can’t wait [even though it is currently one single degree out there; I’m just going to wear all my clothes at once, okay?]. On Saturday, I’ll be at Appetite for Books for a signing at 3 p.m. There is also a smaller reception at 2 p.m. but unfortunately, it already sold out. With or without a ticket, you are welcome at 3 p.m. [Details.] And next Tuesday, rumor has it that a little segment we filmed in my little kitchen last month for The Today Show will air. That evening, 7 p.m., at PowerHouse Arena in Brooklyn, we’re going to have a Valentines Day Cookie Swap and book signing along with the Dawn Casale from One Girl Cookies, Adam Roberts from Amateur Gourmet and author of Secrets of the Best Chefs and Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito of the Baked Bakery and all of its wonderful cookbooks. I set up this event because the lovely store and event space was badly hit by Hurricane Sandy (they lost everything; every book, every register) and they’re the exact kind of place I’d like to see around for a long time. I hope if you’re in the area, you can come by. You’re welcome with or without cookies! [Details.] As always, every event and all of the details we know are listed on the Events & Book Tour Page.
Signed books: If you’d like to order a signed or signed-and-personalized book for your sweetie for Valentine’s Day through McNally-Jackson, the deadline for shipping is this Thursday morning, February 7th. More details here. Order form here.
One year ago: Cheddar, Beer and Mustard Pull-Apart Bread
Two years ago: Mushroom and Farro Soup and Meatballs Subs with Caramelized Onions
Three years ago: New York Deli Rye Bread, Best Cocoa Brownies, Chana Masala and Walnut Jam Cake
Four years ago: Warm Butternut Squash and Chickpea Salad, Chocolate Whiskey and Beer Cupcakes and Crisp Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Slaw
Five years ago: Rigatoni with Eggplant Puree, Candied Grapefruit Peels and Matzo Ball Soup
Six years ago: Asparagus, Artichoke and Shiitake Risotto and Miniature Soft Pretzels
Egg Salad with Pickled Celery and Coarse Dijon
As I learned here, there are about as many ways to hard-boiled eggs as there are people who make them. If you’re looking for a new technique, you will delight in the comments. Here, I use my approach, the one that works for me every time. If you rest the eggs in the fridge for a day or so after cooking them, they’re usually easier to peel while keeping the eggs intact. (Although mine, three days old, still were not. Punks.) If you’re not into mayo (I know you’re not, even if I don’t agree), you can use plain Greek yogurt instead. I have you make more celery than you’ll need because trust me, it will get used, as it’s great in everything from tuna to potato salads.
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons Kosher salt (you can go up to 1 tablespoon if using the lighter weight Diamond brand; here’s why)
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 stalks celery, trimmed, diced tiny
4 large eggs
1 heaped teaspoon whole-grain Dijon
2 teaspoons minced shallot or red onion (or more to taste)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise or full-fat plain yogurt
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Chopped flat-leaf parsley or fresh dill (to garnish, optional)
Pickle your celery: Combine vinegar, water, Kosher salt and sugar in a jar and shake it until the salt and sugar dissolve. Add diced celery to jar, cover it and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, ideally one hour and up to one week.
Cook your eggs: Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with an inch of cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, and once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and set your timer for 10 minutes (for perfectly cooked through eggs), or 9 minutes (if you like them just-barely-set in the center, like mine above). Once the timer rings, drain eggs and rinse under cold water to stop cooking. To quickly chill them so you can use them right away, cover them in ice water for 10 to 15 minutes.
Make your salad: Peel your eggs and chop them, placing them in a medium bowl. Add 1 heaped tablespoon of pickled celery (more to taste), Dijon, shallot, mayo, salt and pepper and mix. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve on toasted whole grain bread, garnished with fresh herbs.