The 1-Ingredient Upgrade for Better Egg Salad

<p>Simply Recipes / Adobe Stock</p>

Hard-boiled eggs are a polarizing food in my household. And by that I mean I’m the only one who likes them. When I mash them up with mayo for egg salad, I can guarantee I’ll be eating one of my favorite meals completely alone.

I love egg salad because it’s easy, protein-packed, and versatile for weekday lunches, but I understand why it’s a tough sell to some. Egg salad has earned a reputation for being picked last at picnics and can be flat in flavor and mushy.

For all these reasons, my taste buds perked up when I read about Smitten Kitchen’s egg salad glow-up nearly a decade ago, which upgraded my mid-week lunches ever since.

The tip? Adding quick-pickled celery, which Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen says “adds a little accent and crunch, and once you fall in love with it here, it will be impossible to make it any other way, so consider yourself warned.” Speaking from personal experience: I agree.

Deb combines white wine vinegar, water, salt, and sugar to diced celery, and lets it quick-pickle for at least 30 minutes—she prepares the eggs during this time. The pickles can stay in the fridge for up to seven days and that means you can have impromptu egg salad all week.

<p>Simply Recipes / Adobe Stock</p>

How I Quick-Pickle Any Vegetable

Celery in egg salad is classic, but any quick-pickled veggie can add flavor and crunch to your egg salad. Think cucumbers, red onions, green peppers, carrots, zucchini, or blanched green beans. The key is to slice them thinly for that perfect bite. I typically keep quick-pickled red onions in my fridge and prefer them to celery in my egg salad for the color, tang, and texture.

If you’re new to pickling, don’t be intimidated. It’s really simple, needs only a few ingredients, and requires little time and attention. Here’s how:

To make the pickling liquid, I use a ratio of one-to-one-to-one-to-one: one cup water, one cup vinegar, one tablespoon salt, and one tablespoon sugar. It’s so easy to remember.

Combine water and white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar—my go-to for their crisp and fruity undertones. If you’re out of vinegar, lemon or lime juice can be a fantastic substitute. The acidity of citrus adds a bright, fresh flavor to your quick pickle.

Add salt and a sweetener to the mixture. Maple syrup is my preferred sweetener—hey, I live in Vermont after all!—but honey or sugar are excellent alternatives.

Add finely diced veggies to the liquid. Use a jar with a tight-fitting lid for easy shaking, or mash the veggies into your pickling liquid with a wooden spoon to release their flavors more fully.

Although a brief dip into your pickling liquid can suffice, letting your veggies marinate for at least 30 minutes deepens the flavors, making them even more irresistible in your egg salad.

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