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ELT: Egg (Salad), Lettuce and Tomato
Plus: Mark your calendar for the PORTICO Cookbook Club!
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Hello The Jewish Table readers,
This week, I have a very tasty recipe for an ELT: Egg (Salad), Lettuce, and Tomato sandwich to share, some exciting updates about this newsletter’s Portico Cookbook Club, and a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what it looks like when two food writers get together to film an Instagram reel. (See below.)
But first, a moment of praise for egg salad. Because in my opinion, it is the queen of all mayo-laden Jewish “salads.” Better than tuna salad. Better than smoked salmon salad. Better than whitefish salad. (Better than chopped liver, though that is not quite the same category.) I am open to debate in the comments, but probably won’t be swayed. Whether spread on a cracker, spooned on top of a bagel, or smushed in a sandwich, egg salad’s creamy, umami-rich decadence is simply incomparable.
There are two primary methods for making egg salad. The first, which is what you will invariably find at a Jewish deli, bnai mitzvah, bris, or kiddush after Shabbat services, mixes chopped or grated hardboiled eggs with mayonnaise, maybe a little mustard or lemon juice, and often some finely chopped celery, scallions, or sweet onion. Delicious. Perfection. Wouldn’t change a thing.
The second type of egg salad, which is popular in Hungarian Jewish cuisine (but much lesser known in America), is defined by the addition of slowly caramelized onions that add a hint of sweetness and richness to the mix. Called zsidó tojás (literally “Jewish eggs” in Hungarian, because the dish is so closely associated with the country’s historic Jewish community), the onions are cooked in goose schmaltz or vegetable oil and folded into the chopped eggs. Hungarian egg salad is typically flavored with a bit of paprika, and does not usually contain any fresh alliums. Yes please. Love it. Give me many bowls.
This week’s recipe combines the best of both worlds: the creaminess of mayonnaise, plus something tasty fried in oil. My Instagram feed has recently been filled with photos and videos of BLTs. It is peak tomato season after all, so I understand that the time to make a classic bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich in all its crispy, crunchy, tomato-y glory is now.
I wish that the all-powerful internet algorithms would figure out that I don’t eat bacon! But even though I don’t personally indulge, the photos make me jealous. So after seeing the 1001st BLT photo pop up on my Instagram feed, my hunger-inspired brain somehow landed on an ELT that replaces the bacon with my own favorite sandwich protein. (Yep, egg salad.)
Egg salad shares a lot of the same rich, savory, crave-worthy aspects of bacon, with two big exceptions: smoke and crispiness. So then I went a little crazy and thought: what if I stirred crispy bits of pan-fried mushrooms flavored with smoked paprika into the mix? And thus, my ideal ELT was born.
I’m excited to share the recipe with you below, and hope you love it. But before you get cooking, please read these three tips for ELT success:
Don’t overcrowd your frying pan with mushrooms or stir them too frequently while they are cooking. Mushrooms need plenty of room and extended contact with the pan’s surface in order to brown properly. It is all about the Maillard reaction, baby!
Toast your bread in oil in a pan, not in the toaster. Pan-toasted bread elevates an ELT (or really any savory sandwich) in a big way.
Salt and pepper your tomatoes before layering them on the sandwich.
Okay! Go forth and enjoy this ode to egg salad, kosher-friendly BLTs, and perfect late summer tomatoes.
ELT: Egg (Salad), Lettuce and Tomato
For the Egg Salad:
6 large eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (or extra-virgin olive oil)
8 oz (227 g) cremini or white button mushrooms, finely chopped
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
Extra-virgin olive oil, for toasting bread
Sliced sourdough bread (or gluten-free bread of choice)
Sliced ripe tomatoes (heirloom if ya got ‘em)
Kosher salt + freshly ground black pepper
Romaine lettuce, or another crunchy lettuce you like
Place the eggs in a small saucepan and cover with water by about 1 inch. Bring to a boil, uncovered, over high heat. As soon as the water boils, remove saucepan from the heat, cover, and let sit for 18 minutes. Transfer eggs to an ice bath (or really cold water) to cool, then peel and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring as little as possible, until browned and a little crispy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the onion powder and smoked paprika, then remove from the heat and let cool a bit.
Grate the hardboiled eggs on the large holes of a box grater into a medium bowl. Add the mayonnaise, salt, pepper, and cooked mushrooms and stir to combine. (Use a spatula to scrape any flavorful oil from the frying pan into the bowl.) Taste and add more salt and pepper, if desired. The egg salad is ready to use now, but the flavors will deepen after a couple of hours in the fridge.
To assemble 1 sandwich: Heat a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a small or medium frying pan set over medium heat. Add two pieces of bread and toast, flipping once, until golden on both sides. Transfer to a plate to cool slightly.
Spoon a generous amount of egg salad onto one of the toasted bread slices. Season 1 or 2 tomato slices with salt and pepper, then layer on top of the egg salad. Top with the lettuce and the second piece of toasted bread. Cut in half and serve immediately. Repeat process for additional sandwiches.
The PORTICO Cookbook Club
About a month ago, I ran a poll to see if readers of The Jewish Table might be interested in a Portico Cookbook Club. And the resounding answer was: YES! As a reminder, the club will:
Pick a date in mid-September, before Rosh Hashanah.
Choose a recipe or two to cook at home.
Hop on a Zoom to nosh, kibbitz, and learn more about Rome’s Jewish community.
If it goes really well, we can schedule a second one!
Here are two potential dates for the Portico Cookbook Club. If you’re interested in joining, please let me know which date works best. The Zoom will last about 1 hour.
The Portico Cookbook Club will only be open to paid subscribers of The Jewish Table. So if you’d like to join (and we’d love to have you!) make sure you upgrade to a paid subscription.
All of my other book events are open to the public. Hope to see you there.
Behind-the-Scenes w/ Meryl Feinstein of Pasta Every Day
We both have cookbooks coming out this season, so we were filming a reel together for Instagram. To be fully honest, filming reels isn’t a favorite activity for either of us. But hey, it’s part of the job of being a food writer these days—and it significantly more enjoyable doing it together.
We cooked the Lemon & Herb Ricotta Gnocchi from Pasta Every Day (which…OMG. You should buy Meryl’s book for lots of reasons, but that gnocchi is definitely one of them.) And we paired it with the Silky Marinated Zucchini (Concia) from Portico. Together, the dishes make a perfect end-of-summer feast.
Keep an eye out for the reel on Instagram in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, here are a few behind-the-scenes shots from my kitchen: