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I ate egg salad sandwiches with my Grandma Lilly at various department store tea rooms a mountain of years ago. I love them still, though the kind I build today look a lot less trimmed, pale and polished. They are open-faced, perhaps with a liner of leafy greens and herbs, and topped sometimes with a crackle of nuts or seeds.
I'm inclined to bake a quick bread to use as the base for a big, creamy swipe of the savory salad: A slice of soda bread, tender inside and crusty on the edges, is my preferred surface. Choosy about bedding greens as well as bread, I am partial to baby arugula or spinach, radicchio, mizuna or watercress.
Egg salad is largely amenable to many flavor boosts, as you can see in the accompanying recipe's variations. But honestly, it's this fairly pure version I share with you that charms me the most.
CLASSIC EGG SALAD
Makes about 1 3/4 cups (about 5 servings)
MAKE AHEAD: The egg salad is best served freshly made, but it can be refrigerated up to one day in advance.
7 large eggs
1/4 cup regular or low-fat mayonnaise
2 1/4 teaspoons prepared mustard
1/4 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
A few shakes (about 1/8 teaspoon total) hot sauce, or to taste (optional)
2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
Freshly ground black pepper
Fill a mixing bowl with cold water.
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Use a slotted spoon to gently lower in the eggs, one at a time; cook for 12 minutes. Immediately remove the saucepan from the heat; use the slotted spoon to transfer the eggs to the bowl of cold water.
Place the bowl of eggs in the sink and run cold water into the bowl for 3 minutes. Lift out the eggs with the slotted spoon, pat them dry, then peel them. Cool for 10 minutes.
Whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar and hot sauce, if using, in a small nonreactive bowl. Stir in the pickle relish, then season with pepper to taste.
Place the eggs in a mixing bowl. Use a potato masher to lightly break them into small chunks. Spoon over and fold through the mayonnaise mixture, including any one of the variation ingredients (see below). Transfer the egg salad to an airtight container. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
VARIATIONS: Any one of the following ingredients would be a tasty addition to egg salad: 4 teaspoons snipped fresh dill; 4 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh parsley; 2/3 cup diced smoked ham; 2/3 cup diced steamed shrimp; 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (pimenton; whisk it into the mayonnaise mixture); 3 tablespoons diced roasted red pepper.