I know, I know, you’re thinking, Egg salad? Really? And normally I’d agree with you — it took me a good six years to even contemplate eating a hard-boiled egg, and the smell, taste, and texture of store-bought mayonnaise sends a shiver of disgust down my spine. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Egg salad can be whatever you’d like it to be, and if you’re in the vicinity of a farm, a farmers’ market, or a chicken-keeping friend, you can get your hands on eggs with, well, I almost want to say terroir, but that seems indulgent, so let’s say flavor, and the kind of bright, deep yellow yolks that before now you’d seen only in children’s books.
After you’ve secured your artisanal eggs, the key is to cook them properly. The phrase “hard-boiled” doesn’t do any favors for the cooked egg lovers of the world, because it describes something that’s rightfully foul. No one likes an overcooked, rubbery, green-tinted egg. So you won’t make one of those, and we won’t call them “hard-boiled,” we’ll call them “hard-cooked,” because we won’t really be boiling them for long. Here’s the thing: there are many, many ways to hard-cook an egg. This is what I like to do:
- Gently place a few eggs in a medium-sized pot
- Fill the pot with water and place over high heat
- Bring the water to a gentle boil for one minute, then remove the pot from heat, cover, and let stand for 10 minutes
- Place the eggs into an ice water bath for five minutes, or until cool enough to handle
The end. No poking holes with tiny needles, no delicate ladling into vats of steamy water. This technique works for me, producing a well-cooked but not rubbery egg. Also, I am lazy, and I like that I can just set a timer and leave the eggs in the pot for 10 minutes while I do something else. If you like your eggs on the soft side, reduce the sitting time by a minute or three.
As for the mayo, well, my preference is to stay far, far away from the shelf-stable commercial mayonnaise products you can get at the grocery store. So unless you can make your own at home, a little olive oil will do. It does the trick for me.
Easy Egg Salad
This easy egg salad is one of my go-to lunch recipes — it’s quick and free-form, allowing me to incorporate any herbs and spices we have handy. I encourage you to do the same. The recipe will make one or two small sandwiches, or one big one.
At least two hard-cooked eggs
Extra virgin olive oil
Onion powder (optional)
Mustard power (optional)
Salt and pepper
Any herbs, spices, or vegetables you have on hand
Crack and peel two eggs. Using your hands or a fork, break the eggs up into small chunks. Pour in a couple glugs of the olive oil — maybe a tablespoon or two — and add a hefty pinch of salt and as much pepper as you like. If you have it on hand, add a very small pinch of onion and mustard powders. Stir rapidly to incorporate the ingredients, making a bit of a paste with some of the yolk and the oil. Don’t worry about uniformity; part of the charm of this salad is its rustic chunkiness. Pile it on a nice toasty piece of bread, and top with salad greens and sprouts.
I add some of these ingredients (individually, or in various delicious combinations) to this salad with some regularity, depending on what’s in the fridge:
A tablespoon or two of finely diced celery, shredded carrot, or chopped chives
A big pinch of dill (fresh or dried) or parsley (fresh)
A big pinch of paprika, smoked paprika, cumin, or curry powder