Who Invented Egg Salad?
The sandwich of my youth, the one I loved even more than peanut butter and jelly, was Mom's egg salad. It was a no-frills, nothing fancy, simple meal of the most basic of ingredients—sliced white bread, hard-cooked eggs, a dash of salt and pepper, and (the most exotic ingredient of it all), a dollop of Best Foods Real Mayonnaise.
No one knows for sure who invented the egg salad, or when it came to be, but most food historians place it somewhere in the mid-19th century. The first recipe in print seems to be in the 1896 edition of The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, by Fannie Farmer.
Our On-Again, Off-Again Relationship With the Egg
Do you remember when eggs were the basis for a "good, solid breakfast?" They were considered wholesome and healthy—and most of us had chickens in the backyard, so fresh eggs were always available.
Then, about 40 years ago, we started talking about cholesterol. Fat was "bad" and fiber was "good." With more than a bit of sadness, we gave up our whole milk, fresh butter, creamy cheeses, and (worst of all), eggs. Overnight our typical 'start of the day' had become poison. And those who simply could not exist without eggs discarded the yolks and prepared scrambled eggs with the whites only (and a touch of canola oil in a nonstick pan).
Oh, the horror!
But Then Eggs Hired a New Public Relations Firm
Now (thankfully) the tide has turned. Nutritionists now recognize that the dietary cholesterol found in eggs does not contribute to high blood cholesterol levels. The typical American diet, which includes lots of animal products (meat) can (and often does) increase blood cholesterol levels, but it's the saturated fats in those animal products that are the real culprit.
In contrast, eggs are low in saturated fat—and they contain important nutrients. We now know that eggs are safe to eat and (Grandma was right) an important part of our diets.
How to Prepare Easy-To-Peel Hard-Cooked Eggs
First, you need to prepare your eggs so that they will be easy to peel. Here's how:
- Grasp a pin (I use a bulletin board push-pin).
- Use the pin to make a "pin-sized" hole in the large end of each egg. You will need to hold the egg in your hand. Trust me on this. If you attempt to push the pin into the end of the egg while balancing it on a hard surface it WILL crack.
- You don't need a large hole, just a pinprick that goes through the shell into the egg.
Next, bring a saucepan (with a lid) of water to a boil over high heat. There should be enough water to cover and about one inch of water above the eggs. Don't use a pan that's too small. You want the eggs in one layer, not piled on top of one another.
When the water is boiling gently, lower the eggs into the water. I use a large slotted spoon to do this. Cover and remove from the heat. Let sit undisturbed (no peeking) for 13 minutes. Transfer eggs to a cold water bath (a bowl filled with ice and water) and allow them to cool completely.
The Perfect Egg Salad
- 6 hard-cooked eggs, cooled and peeled
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- Freshly ground black pepper and Kosher salt to taste
- Slice the eggs in half; pop the yolks out of the whites. Place the yolks in one bowl and the whites in a separate bowl.
- Mince the whites. I use a potato masher to cut the whites into small pieces (pieces, not a smooshy mess.
- Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl with the yolks. Mash and smash until it's all smooth and creamy. Stir the minced whites into the yolks/mayonnaise mixture.
My mom never used Dijon mustard in egg salad (I doubt she had even heard of Dijon). But I think the recipe needs a little acid to cut the richness of the yolks.
By the way, I know that some of you like (demand) a bit of crunch in your sandwich and/or the "bite" of raw onion. If that's your thing, feel free to add in 1 small stalk of celery (finely diced) and/or 2 tablespoons of minced onion.
1. Avocado Egg Salad
Our first spin-off recipe uses avocados (and a touch of Greek yogurt) in place of the traditional mayonnaise. Avocados are not only rich and creamy but add a nutritious boost of potassium and heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids. Plan on using this avocado egg salad the same day you make it.
2. Avocado Chicken Egg Salad
This avocado-chicken egg salad is loaded with flavor and texture with the inclusion of extra goodies (corn, bacon, red onion) and a tangy lemon-dill dressing. Unlike the above recipe, I won't make any comment about leftovers, because there will be none.
3. Bacon Ranch Egg Salad
Bacon lovers, this one's for you. This bacon ranch egg salad pairs crispy, crunchy bacon with creamy eggs. Shredded cheddar cheese and dry ranch salad dressing mix are easy flavor additions.
4. Cobb Egg Salad
More and more flavor—all the flavors we associate with the Cobb salad are packed in this Cobb egg salad. There's egg (of course), bacon, two types of cheese, arugula, and even grape tomatoes. It's a full meal in a bowl or bun.
5. Curried Egg Salad
Curried egg salad takes a flavorful, spiced spin on this classic dish. It’s the perfect combination of creamy and crunchy, with a hint of curry heat. Grated carrots add crunch, color, and a bit of sweetness to contrast with the warm curry spices.
6. Deviled Egg Salad
My daughter says she doesn't like eggs; fried, poached, scrambled, baked—she turns her nose up at every one. There's one exception—she loves deviled eggs. If you like the tangy deviled eggs flavored with dill pickle, vinegar, and spices, this deviled egg salad will be one of your favorites in this article.
In case you were wondering, “deviled" is a culinary term dating back to the 1700s. It means cooking something with lots and lots of hot and spicy condiments and seasonings.
7. Shrimp Egg Salad
This is an ideal warm-weather light meal. Shrimp egg salad is a wonderful contrast of tastes and textures. Sweet, briny shrimp are the perfect counterpoint to the sharp tang of onions, lemon, and garlic.
8. Tuna Egg Salad
Tuna egg salad is a classic that never seems to get old. Simple, familiar, yet oh-so-satisfying, this recipe comes fully loaded with tuna, hard-boiled eggs, celery, and dill pickles, all tossed together in a creamy, zingy dressing. It’s all the savory goodness you know and love about old-fashioned tuna salad!
9. Vegan (Smashed Chickpea) "Egg" Salad
Chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) aren't just for making hummus. These little legumes are a nutritional powerhouse, a rich source of vitamins, fiber, minerals, and plant-based protein.
This chickpea "egg" salad is great as a filling for sandwiches or wraps, as a spread on crackers, or eaten straight from the bowl.
10. Vegan (Tofu) "Egg" Salad
This cholesterol-free, tofu-based "egg" salad is perfect for those summer days when it's simply too hot to cook. You don't even have to boil water.
© 2021 Linda Lum