Egg salad is hardly an innovation in the cooking world. However, I find that most prepared egg salad sandwiches you buy at the grocery store or in some restaurants are lacking in taste: too much mayonnaise, not enough flavors. Yes, egg salad can have a pretty complex and refined taste! When I studied in Toronto, E and I loved to grab lunch at the What a Bagel chain, which cooked fresh and plump bagels offered with a variety of different fillings. My favorite was their egg salad: its texture was divine (I hate mushy, reduced-to-a-bland-paste egg salad!) and the seasoning just right.
Back in Quebec, I tried many different combinations of ingredients to get the same level of satisfaction from my egg salad bagels. All of the ingredients are staples you already have (or should have!) in your pantry or your refrigerator and making it takes just a couple of minutes. Toast a sesame multigrain bagel (or two slices of pumpernickel bread), wash a couple of lettuce leaves and spread a really thick layer of egg salad – voilà! You have your healthy, home-made sandwich ready to eat as quickly as it would have taken you to drive to the grocery store to buy one.
It’s a good idea to keep hard-boiled eggs in the refrigerator. They’re a breeze to prepare in advance (see the fool-proof method below). Once they’re cooked, leave them in their shells and store them in the fridge in an airtight container. They will keep for about a week, waiting for you to crave for them.
Here’s the recipe that will guide you on to a better egg salad. Please, feel free to adjust the seasoning to your taste!
Really Satisfying Egg Salad
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled (fool-proof method follows)
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 scallion or spring onion, finely chopped
A small bunch of rocket leaves or flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (about 3 tbsp)
4-5 tbsp mayonnaise (I use ½ fat light Hellman’s and it works just fine)
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp grainy Meaux mustard
½ tsp curcuma
Freshly ground black pepper and a good pinch of fleur de sel
To make your sandwich:
2 toasted bagels
Chop – don’t mash – your eggs roughly into ¼-inch cubes. Don’t get all meticulous about it; just run your knife through the eggs in many different directions and it should do the job. What you want is to get them to small pieces so you can still feel the texture in your sandwich. The yolks will probably break into smaller pieces, but it’s ok since they will blend into the liquid ingredients anyway.
Put your chopped eggs in a big bowl, put everything else in there and give it a good stir. The mayo, mustards and seasonings must be evenly blended. If you prefer, you can mix the mayo, mustards, curcuma and pepper in a small bowl before adding it to the eggs. Add the fleur de sel last so that it keeps its nice and crunchy texture in the salad. Mix well until you see the salad is creamy and has reached its typical bright yellow color.
Toast your bagels, wash your lettuce leaves. Spread a nice thick layer of egg salad on bagel half, garnish with lettuce in the middle and enjoy.
Fool-Proof Hard-Boiled Eggs
This is E’s method and he makes them perfect every time – no gray or greenish rings around the yolks, ever! Perfect also when you want to serve vintage deviled eggs that will keep their perfect colors.
Put the quantity of eggs you want to cook in a casserole (don’t overcrowd it; the eggs should fit in a single layer). Cover them with cold water. Put your casserole on medium-high heat and bring the water to a boil. As soon as the water boils, take your casserole off the heat, put a lid on and let your eggs rest in the hot water for 15 (medium eggs) to 20 minutes (extra-large eggs). Crank a timer as you don’t want to leave your eggs in for any longer. Once they’re cooked, drain the hot water, rinse your eggs under cold water, then fill your casserole with cold water and let your eggs cool in there. Store them in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
A tip: If your eggs are really hard to peel, it’s probably because they’re too fresh. The shell of a fresh egg tends to stick to the cooked egg white, making it hard to peel without damaging the egg. It’s not so bad when you want to make an egg salad, but if you want to showcase them, buy your eggs in advance. It’s best to hard-boil eggs that are a week old or more.