When you write about food, even good friends hesitate to ask you over for a meal. Inviting me to stay for a summer weekend is even more fraught, no matter how much I assure them I'm content to munch on burgers or canned tuna with carrot sticks in exchange for the chance to soak up the sun by their pool.
To show my gratitude, I make it a point to give my hosts a break and prepare at least one meal a day. As a way of ensuring I get plenty of time pool-side, I have perfected the art of making dishes that impress while requiring minimal time and effort. Some are deliberately creative, like pork strips stir-fried with sliced plums, ginger and hoisin sauce. I might follow this with a dessert of pears, quartered and warmed in honey with a dab of butter, then seasoned with black pepper and served with a dollop of vanilla Greek yogurt. But sometimes I simply try to provide a new twist to an old favorite.
Egg salad is particularly easy to vary in appealing ways. If the weekend brings a cool or cloudy day, I make a hearty version by adding chopped mushrooms and onions, sauteed until well-browned. In between slices of whole-wheat toast, it goes especially well with a warming bowl of leek or onion soup. For an elegant lunch, I spoon ordinary mayonnaise-dressed egg salad into whole romaine lettuce leaves, line up red pepper rings and a couple of cold shrimp along the top of these filled boats, and toss the whole thing with bottled Italian salad dressing.
But my most memorable egg salad variation is this open-faced sandwich. I got the idea from a lunch at a restaurant in Copenhagen that serves 230 kinds of open-faced sandwiches. This one features egg salad full of crunchy, colorful vegetables and olives, heaped over baby spinach leaves on top of a square of whole-grain pumpernickel or black bread.
Place the eggs, whole, into a pot large enough to hold all four in one layer. Add cold water until the eggs are covered by two inches of water. Over medium-high heat, bring the water to a full boil. Boil eggs for 30 seconds, cover the pot and set aside, off the heat. After 15 minutes, drain the eggs. Using the back of a spoon, crack them all over. Set the pot under running cold water for 5 minutes. Peel the eggs.
Place 3 of the hard-cooked eggs in a mixing bowl. Halve the fourth, discard the yolk, and add the white to the bowl. Chop the eggs. Add the carrots, celery, chives, olives, shallots, yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard, and pepper and mix with a fork until well combined.
To serve, place a slice of the bread on each of 4 plates. Cover each with one-fourth of the spinach. Mound one-fourth of the egg salad on top of the spinach. Add 3 tomatoes to each plate and serve immediately.
Makes 1 1/2 cups, (4 servings).
Per serving: 112 calories, 4 g. total fat (1 g. saturated fat), 13 g. carbohydrate, 6 g. protein, 2 g. dietary fiber, 300 mg. sodium.
About The Author: "Something Different" is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR's New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on diet and cancer and educates the public about the results. http://www.aicr.org
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