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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Using Up those Hard-Cooked Eggs

First there were just boiled eggs dipped in salt and pepper. Then perhaps came the egg salad sandwiches, then the deviled eggs. Now, every time you open the refrigerator, you are still faced with three, four, or even more colored creations staring you in the face. Will the family really accept another night of eggy eating?

Probably the best way to use up the last of the Easter eggs (and to add the cheap protein of eggs into meals the rest of the year) is to think salad.

Not just egg salad though. Instead, start to consider some of your usual tossed salads and add in some  hard-cooked eggs for garnishing, for texture, and for flavor. Check the refrigerator for the ingredients you have to make a basic salad. Today I have Romaine, tomatoes, a red onion (always onions!), cabbage, green pepper, and an avocado. Not hard to see how tossing these other ingredients together with some egg slices on top could be a great side dish for the rest of the meal.

There are also some classic "composed" salads. As one website says, composed salads aren't tossed, they are "placed. You could try a Salad Nicoise that starts with an array of tuna, tiny green beans, potatoes, and egg slices, with lots of other additions possible for the creative or adventurous cook.  

However, if those egg slices looking up at everyone are just too much a reminder of how often these Easter eggs have been showing up, try chopping them into your favorite potato salad recipe. Serve it as a side with some slices of that leftover ham and apple and cranberry sauce and you'll have a bright meal with the eggs relatively hidden from view.

If you have a creamy dressing--bottled Ranch or Caesar for example--you could also put crumbled egg yolks (and finely chopped whites) into the dressing for either a lettuce or coleslaw salad too.

Two tools that I have in my kitchen have proven invaluable in cutting nice slices or chopping hard cooked eggs: an egg slicer and a pastry blender. Neither is essential, but I acquired them long ago and they are especially useful at times like this. If you don't have one or the other of these tools, a standard fork works just fine for chopping too.




In doing some research for this post, I found a couple of recipes that included finely chopped eggs in meatballs, but I haven't tried this. If you have, please let me know how it worked out.

A Heritage Recipe for Today

Finally, hard cooked eggs bring back to mind a "Depression recipe"  Mom often served when finances were a little tight. She had carried this salad forward from the 30s, when selling eggs and chickens helped them keep the family farm, usually served with just some homemade bread and perhaps some applesauce or (for my father's ever-present sweet tooth) some homemade cookies for dessert.

I have lightened the recipe by substituting a yogurt dressing for the Miracle Whip that she used for all manner of creamy salads, but the rest of the ingredient amounts remain as close to hers as I can recall. It is actually a very healthy vegetarian main dish and there are a lot of textures in play here. Still good with homemade bread or crisp crackers, and a fruit tray would make a great completion to the meal...pretty inexpensive as well, so you might want to try this one out with those few remaining eggs. Just leave the sliced egg garnish off if you think the family has seen altogether too much of these lately!



Kidney Bean and Egg Salad
2 hard-cooked eggs, coarsely chopped
1/2 to 3/4 c diced celery, to taste
1/4 to 1/3 c minced sweet onion, to taste
3/4 c (1/2 15 oz can) dark red kidney beans, drained (see NOTE)
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 
1 more hard-cooked egg, sliced, for garnish (optional)

Dressing
1/3 c plain, nonfat yogurt
1 t mustard--yellow prepared or your favorite flavor
1-2 t sugar, to taste

1.  Combine dressing ingredients.
2.  Toss the salad ingredients together and add just enough dressing to coat the mixture.
3.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  

Suggested serving:  garnished with sliced hard-cooked eggs and parsley, on lettuce leaves if desired. Black olives are also a very good addition to this salad, adding even more color.

NOTE:  For whatever reason, canned kidney beans invariably have sugar added--unlike just about any other kind of bean other than "pork and bean" styles. If you want to use home-cooked kidney beans, you may find a bit of sugar stirred in with the salad ingredients will give you a more "traditional" flavor.
  
      



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