Look, the sun is out! Spring is finally here! Bright colors, lovely flowers, time to start a garden. Hit up the local farmer’s markets. Have you started your base tan? I sure have.
I constructed this kicked-up version of an egg salad as soon as spring was in full swing—it’s one of my favorite sandwiches when done well. Don’t even bother ordering them in deli restaurants or diners (Is there a restaurant on this planet who actually makes a legit egg salad sandwich? Please let me know…I have yet to find one). Who wants overwhelming globs of gluey mayo mixed with overcooked, flavorless, rubbery eggs dumped on weak pieces of bread? You can barely pick the thing up, it’s piled so high—not to mention it feels like a new patch of cellulite in every bite. Egg salad should be about creamy yolks, a slight bond–job done by mayo, and little crunch here, a little tang there. Delicate saltiness balanced with light and fresh flavors of its fresh accompaniments—this is a prime example of where a few quality ingredients really are key, because this will pack in a LOT of flavor. This is an egg salad unlike any you’ve had before, and you’ll never turn your back on it again.
So what’s the secret? Compound mayo, also known as aioli. Solo and naked mayo is just plain nauseating unless you doctor it up. Fresh herbs and a squeeze of lemon cut out that icky, gluey taste that I seem to associate with the stuff. Salt and pepper has to be mixed in then—they get evenly distributed and add that last lick of seasoning that everything seems to always need. In mayo for egg salad, I use parsley, basil, and chives. I see mayo as a vehicle for incredible flavors, and the possibilities are endless. Mix in some chopped garlic and tons fresh basil, and you’ve got an incredible aioli for a grilled chicken panini with provolone (like my older entry The Chicken Special). Or mix mayo with chopped up sun-dried tomatoes, spread on a baguette for a soppresata salami sandwich with mixed greens, good balsamic and evoo. Try mixing with fresh dill, chopped capers, and lemon, smear it on a bagel topped with smoked salmon, red onion, and vine-ripened tomato.
For this sandwich, it’s all about the bread. A soft, nutty, seven-grain bread. There’s something about multigrain—the little nuggets of seeds that add that itty-bitty crunch and delicate chewiness. There are a few out there that definitely taste like cardboard, so be picky. I adore the seven-grain bread made Van de Kamps called “Western Hearth”. Phenom.
As for the eggs, don’t overcook them when you hard boil ’em or else the yolks will turn grey-green and super dry. Don’t walk away from them for very long. 10 minutes is the magic number. The yolk will be so vibrantly yellow and tender. It’s worth the OCD.
: Herb Egg Salad Sandwich :
• 3 large eggs
• 1/4 c good mayo (for the love of god, don’t use that the fat free miracle whip crap)
• 1 Tbsp fresh parsley
• 4 large leaves of basil
• 8 sprigs of chives
• 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, paprika
• slices of seven-grain bread, or other artisan grain bread
• wafter thin slices of red onion and cucumber
• leaf of crisp romaine
To hard boil the eggs
Place eggs in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once it begins to boil, stir eggs with a spoon for a second—jumbling them around helps the egg cook evenly and don’t make the yolk settle in weird places. Turn of the heat and let stand for EXACTLY ten minutes. Then empty out the water and run under cool water for 2 minutes (this helps stop the cooking process). Refrigerate until cold.
Meanwhile, finely chop all herbs and stir into the mayo. Stir in lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Lightly toast the slices of bread so it’s slightly crusty but still very soft and moist (don’t go for your usual darker toasting like you would for breakfast).
Peel eggs and place in a small bowl. Mash with the back of a fork until you get the size chunks you like (I like mine small). Add mayo 1 Tbsp at a time until you get just enough mayo absorbed in the egg. I find that it’s about 1 Tbsp per each egg.
Spread egg mixture on a slice of bread. Sprinkle with a dash of paprika. Layer on cucumber and onion—add a little salt and pepper here. Add lettuce and top with bread.