Easter Monday, the lunch-box books run a million to one in favor of egg salad on white.
We don't suggest messing with fate and packing something else after Easter Sunday's festivities. We do, however, suggest an egg-salad upgrade. The modern egg-salad sandwich is championed by champion chef Michel Roux in "Eggs," his ode to "this most fragile and defenseless of all foods." Here, the egg amateur can learn to boil, poach, fry, scramble and bake before attempting omelet, souffle, crepe, pasta, custard, cream, mousse, meringue, sponge, sauce and dressing.
Then take a break, with sandwich. One that calls for a mixed basket of spring flavors, some of which demand a supermarket treasure hunt: avocado, cucumber, chive, spinach, eel.
Roux savors his sandwich on days off, when he's happy to let someone else prep. We like the fresh approach, which focuses equally on egg and salad. It leaves the peeled egg whole, smack in the middle of the green tangle, where it's easy to find.
Here is Roux's recipe, from "Eggs."
Egg salad sandwich
1 ciabatta loaf, about 11-by-4 inches
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons prepared pesto
3 tablespoons unsalted butter,
Salt and pepper
2 cups (lightly packed) baby spinach, sliced into thin strips
4 ounces smoked eel*, thinly sliced, or sliced smoked ham, smoked trout or crisp hot bacon
1 tomato, thinly sliced
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and thinly sliced
4 hard-cooked eggs**, peeled
1/2 cucumber, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup snipped chives
1 tablespoon chopped basil
4 ounces thinly sliced mozzarella
2 ounces cheddar or gruyere, grated
Slice ciabatta lengthwise, two-thirds from the bottom, to make a lid. Using your fingers, lift out some of the interior crumb. Stir together mayonnaise and pesto. Set aside. Spread softened butter over the ciabatta and season lightly with salt and pepper. Brown, several inches under the broiler, until base and lid are golden, 1 minute. Cool a bit. Spread the ciabatta bottom with half the mayonnaise mixture. Scatter with spinach. Layer eel (or substitute), tomato and avocado, pressing each layer lightly. Add the eggs, left whole for dramatic effect, or sliced in half for easier eating. Top with cucumber. Smear the remaining mayonnaise mixture over the cucumber slices and sprinkle with chives and basil. Finish with a layer of mozzarella slices, topped with grated cheese. Run filled bottom and empty lid under the broiler until hot, 1- 1/2 to 2 minutes. Cover base with lid, pressing down lightly. Slide sandwich onto a cutting board and heave it to the table. Slice and serve. Serves four.
* Smoked eel is available in some seafood sections and many sushi shops. If not, substitute.
** Hard-cooked eggs: Take the eggs out of the refrigerator 2 hours in advance, to prevent them from cracking during cooking. Settle the eggs comfortably in a pan, cover generously with cold water and set over medium heat. When the water comes to a boil, immediately lower to a simmer to prevent rubbery whites. Time 6 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water. Cool 10 minutes. To crack, tap cooked eggs with the back of a spoon. To shell, start with the air pocket at the rounded end and peel under a trickle of cold running water.
Wasabi deviled eggs
6 hard-cooked eggs, peeled
2 tablespoons minced green onion
1 teaspoon wasabi paste
1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Toasted sesame seeds, pickled ginger slices for garnish
Cut eggs in half lengthwise and remove yolks. Mash yolks until smooth. With a fork, whip in green onion, wasabi paste, sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar and mayonnaise. Stuff whites with yolk mixture. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and garnish each with a slice of pickled ginger. Makes 1 dozen.
Source: "The Good Egg"' by Marie Simmons
Italian stuffed eggs
4 hard-cooked eggs
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Peel eggs and halve lengthwise. Remove yolks and press through a sieve into a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil, 1 tablespoon parsley and the garlic, salt and a generous grinding of pepper. Mash with a fork until blended.
With a wooden spoon, gradually beat in remaining oil until smooth and fluffy. Add more salt and pepper if needed. Stuff mixture into the whites. Sprinkle with remaining parsley. Makes 4 servings.
Source: "The Good Egg"' by Marie Simmons