Cooking Spree: Fancy Egg Salad

Here’s something that’s been sorely missing on this blog for awhile … food. I used to do so well, cooking all week for nourishment and experimenting all weekend for stress relief. But I haven’t been doing any of that lately. I think it means I’m less stressed out, but also busier, if that’s even possible. Plus, who wants to cook (or eat) when it’s 100 degrees outside?

Lately I’ve been eating the weirdest things for dinner. Like peanut butter on a handful of Triscuits. The other night I ate shrimp salad on saltines with sesame noodles. This is what happens when you go to the grocery store hungry. My go to, weeknight, starving when I get home at 9 p.m. dinner, though, is egg salad. It makes a killer packable lunch too. All you need are 2 eggs, some mayo and a nice piece of crusty bread. Everyone has that in the fridge, so you can make a feast for yourself in 15 minutes. And when you want, you can also make it fancy.

When I lived in New York, there was a chain of European (well, Euro-style, at least) cafes called Le Pain Quotidien. They have great coffee and beautiful pastries, and everyone sits at long, rustic, wooden communal tables. Ooh la la. But the highlight is the tartine sandwiches — all manner of French-style, open-faced sandwiches served with tart cornichons (tiny pickles) and a green salad. They are delicious, and eating them makes me feel so cosmopolitan. As if I am dining on the sidewalk in Paris, instead of just the loud, dirty corner of 57th Street.

My favorite tartine at Le Pain Quotidien is the egg salad, and they make theirs with a few unique ingredients. The French may love mayonnaise, but here they actually use olive oil as a binder. It may sound odd, but it’s very good. Even I, a mayonnaise connoisseur, didn’t even miss it. In fact, the olive oil somehow makes the egg salad lighter and more buttery. The other special ingredient adds a shock of salt and tang: capers. Capers are apparently a berry from the caper, or Flinders rose, bush. The little, green berries are often pickled and used in Italian and Meditteranean dishes. To me they’re naturally kind of bitter, and then the pickling adds a vinegar bite. I confess I’m not often a caper fan because the flavor can be quite overwhelming, so I enjoy them when used sparingly or hidden in other dishes. In this, they are a great complement.

So, the next time you want to transform your home into a Parisian sidewalk cafe and feel a little fancy, try this egg salad. It’s much cheaper than the plane ticket.


Fancy Egg Salad

2 large eggs
1 tablespoon olive oil (or more)
1 teaspoon capers, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

To boil the eggs, place them in a pot and fill with cold water just to cover them. Heat the water on high until it boils, then turn it off, cover the pot and let the eggs sit for 10-15 minutes. This apparently helps to prevent that green ring that can appear around the yolk, but I don’t care so much about that.

Remove the eggs from the water, and let cool or run cold water over them until they’re cool enough to handle. Peel and slice into a bowl.

Using a pastry blender (or a fork), mash the eggs until there are only small chunks.

Chop the capers and add them to the eggs.

Add the olive oil and mix everything together. At this point, you should taste it and add as much salt and pepper as you like. If the consistency is too dry, or you like yours creamier, add more oil a little bit at a time.

Spread the salad on a good piece of toasted bread. I didn’t have any, but you could add herbs or top with sprouts or shaved radishes or even mixed greens to make it truly fancy.