Thursday, February 7, 2013

Egg Salad with Pickled Celery and Coarse Dijon

I know it's a little déclassé, but I have a real soft spot for egg salad.  I picked up my love of egg salad at sleep away camp in elementary school and it has been one of my guilty pleasures ever since then.  My only problem is that I am a little picky when it comes to egg salad due to my pesky aversion to mayonnaise.  I take one look at most egg salads and run for the hills.  I think I can count on one hand the number of places whose egg salad I have been brave enough to taste.  First there was a bagel place near my first apartment in NYC whose egg salad I cautiously ordered after my first 6 months of staring at it skeptically - it was pretty good, but not amazing.  And then there was the egg salad sandwich I ordered at an airport in Canada on my way to Whistler (I can't remember if it was Montreal or Toronto, but I think it was Montreal) that was full of herbs (I remember tarragon, chives and chervil) and absolutely delicious.  I have tried to recreate it at home but my version has never lived up to the original (partially because I have a really tough time finding chervil at the grocery store).  Last week I was really close to ordering a simit (a Turkish bagel) with sumac egg salad from Simit and Smith, but I chickened out and ordered the simit with salmon, red onion and cream cheese instead.  The funny thing is that I haven't been able to get that sumac egg salad out of my mind ever since.  And then I was poking around the various food blogs I like yesterday and stumbled across a recipe for Egg Salad with Pickled Celery and Coarse Dijon on Smitten Kitchen and I decided that it was fate - I had to make egg salad.  I briefly considered adding some sumac to the Smitten Kitchen Recipe and then decided to save the sumac for another day.  I always add coarse dijon mustard and minced shallot to my egg salad (and often to tuna salad as well) because I love the flavor and texture of both, but the addition of pickled celery really intrigued me.  I often use finely chopped celery in tuna salad, but pickling it first had never occurred to me. 

So there I was, in the midst of cooking Tuesday night's dinner, while hard-boiling eggs and also assembling ingredients for the marinade for last night's dinner.  The kitchen was a disaster area.  Alex took one look and told me I was getting a little elaborate and/or crazy.  But thus far, everything has turned out wonderfully and I'm hopeful that tonight's dinner will be equally wonderful.  I ate a couple spoonfuls of the egg salad last night because I couldn't resist (both before and after the addition of the pickled celery and I thought the pickled celery really made a difference), and served the rest of it today over a bed of mixed greens with some whole wheat sourdough that I toasted until warm and crunchy.  It was absolutely lovely - the perfect light meal that was both nostalgic and delicious.  The pickled celery added a nice crunch and some brightness and acidity, while the minced shallots added a little sweetness and more crunch.  It was reminiscent of my own egg salad, but better.  And I am not too proud to admit it.  I think I am in love.

Recipe after the jump!

Egg Salad with Pickled Celery and Coarse Dijon
Available on Smitten Kitchen


1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
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 (I used labneh)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Chopped flat-leaf parsley or fresh dill (to garnish, optional)

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.

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.

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.

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