Egg salad is something that brings back summer memories for me more than most foods. My mom loves it and always used to make it out at Fire Island for lunch. We are a big breakfast family, especially out there – we always have huge brunches on the weekends with bagels, fruit salad, scrambled eggs, muffins, fried bananas, fresh juice – so we never really eat lunch. In the late afternoons we snack on cheese and grapes at the beach and then have a late dinner. But lunch has always been a meal that gets lost for us on summer weekends.
At the end of the summer though, my family spends a few weeks straight out on the island. It’s all of our favorite time when we relax, get some sun and eat the freshest most wonderful foods. The produce out there is amazing (even though a tomato at the store costs like five bucks) and we have fresh corn, fish and huge salads for dinner almost every night. But we wouldn’t have those huge brunches every day of the week. Weekends were reserved for bagel brunches and weekdays were more of a fend-for-yourself situation. And since none of us are as good at fending for ourselves as we are at letting my mom feed us, lunch at the beach would always make a big comeback at the end of the summer.
My mother loves any kind of salad, and always mixes it in a large bowl and usually eats it with a pair of chopsticks, no matter what kind of salad it is. In the summer, egg salad is the thing with her and I get yearly cravings for egg salad every time I can smell summer coming. She always makes it a few times during those last weeks at the beach and stores it in the fridge for random sandwich making. Sometimes she won’t tell us she’s made it, and while rummaging for a snack there it is, a golden surprise treat. Egg salad reminds me of the beach, of the smell of coconut sunscreen, of sandy hair and my mom’s smooth, tan skin and warm hands. It’s the most comforting sandwich I could imagine and below is my version, mixed with crunchy, fresh spring vegetables and some pickled ramps I’ve been saving for special uses, like this one.
(Makes 32 pieces)
8 hard boiled eggs
2 tablespoon mayonnaise
3 teaspoons Dijon
2 tablespoons of Ramp pickling liquid
3 pickled ramps, finely sliced
3 baby radishes, finely diced
1 shallot, finely diced
1 bulb of spring garlic, finely diced
1 stalk of spring garlic, finely sliced
½ teaspoon Paprika
Sprinkle of red pepper flakes
Pinch of cumin
Salt and pepper
For the Bite:
1. Place 8 eggs in a small pot of cold water. Use enough water to just cover the eggs. Bring water to a boil and start timing the cooking process once the water is boiling. Boil eggs for 10 minutes and then immediately run them under cold water until cooled.
2. In the meantime prepare the ramps, radishes, shallot, and spring garlic. You can cut these to any size you like, but I prefer them diced or sliced finely – the salad will still be chunky even if everything is cut small.
3. When the eggs are finished cooking and cooled, peel and mash in a large bowl. Add the mayonnaise, Dijon, ramp pickling liquid to moisten the salad. Then add the ramps, radishes, shallot, spring garlic and incorporate.
4. Season the salad with paprika, red pepper flakes, cumin and salt and pepper to taste.
5. Hollow out the tomato of your choosing – it could be cherry or grape, or a small vine tomato like the ones we used – just so that it is small enough to eat in one bite. Cut off the top of your tomato and using a small pairing knife, remove the insides. Be careful to leave the tomato as intact and beautiful as possible.
6. Stuff salad into tomato using a small spoon and serve.