When I was a kid, the only egg salad I would ever eat was Mrs. Hurley’s egg salad. Mrs. Hurley was my sister’s and my childhood babysitter who watched us during our early years. We did jigsaw puzzles, played boardgames and did a whole lot of learning.
Mrs. Hurley decorated her house for every holiday. She photographed milestones for my sister and me. She even wrote the date on the backs of photos when she had them developed. She was loving, but firm, and never once balked at our outrageously particular half-sandwich requests at snack time.
If cold cuts were an option, I’d ask for ham with melted swiss and provolone. My sister would ask for ham with cream cheese, butter and raspberry jam. Mrs. Hurley, knowing our orders by heart, would open the fridge and reach for the shallow rectangular Tupperwares where she kept her cold cuts. She’d toast the bread and assemble our half sandwiches to our exact specifications.
Occasionally Mrs. Hurley would make egg salad. She’d use an egg slicer to finely dice the eggs, which I appreciated because I fearfully rejected most forms of egg whites for the first 20 years of my life. I never knew what she put in it, but Mrs. Hurley’s egg salad was the best. It had a uniform (not chunky) consistency, and she always served it on toasted sliced bread—the perfect vehicle for a mushy sandwich filling.
When I eventually overcame my egg white aversion, I started making my own egg salad. I channeled Mrs. Hurley by dicing my eggs into a superfine pile—only I used a knife instead of an egg slicer.
Over time, my sandwich particularities kicked in and I developed my go-to egg salad sandwich: equal parts mayonnaise and Dijon mustard, chives or scallions, prosciutto, and something green and leafy. It’s salty and tangy with a little extra “chew” from the prosciutto.
I’ve never been able to share my egg salad with Mrs. Hurley, and unfortunately I won’t get to. She passed away a few years ago, long after we lost touch.
Today would have been her birthday, which is why I’m sharing this now. I don’t know if Mrs. Hurley would have liked my sandwich, but I know she would have encouraged my creativity, just the way she did when she agreed to melt swiss and provolone for my half-sandwich snack.
This egg salad is robust and mustardy with a little salty boost from the prosciutto. I like to serve it on simple store-bought sliced bread, toasted golden and crisp for a little extra texture and flavor. The recipe is for two hearty sandwiches—or as would have been the case during my days at Mrs. Hurley’s—four snack-sized half sandwiches.
4 hard-boiled eggs, cooled
4-6 thin slices prosciutto
2 medium handfuls arugula
4 tsp mayonnaise
4 tsp Dijon mustard, plus more for the sandwiches
1 tbsp chopped chives
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 slices store-bought bread
Slice the eggs lengthwise in half and dump the yolks into a medium-sized bowl.
Arrange the hollowed-out egg whites on a cutting board and chop them into fine dice.
Place the diced egg whites into the bowl with the egg yolks. Add the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard and chives, and blend with a fork until well combined. Season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Set aside or refrigerate until ready to use.
Toast the bread slices and slather each piece with a bit of Dijon mustard. Layer the prosciutto, egg salad, arugula and remaining slice of bread.
Share with loved ones at lunch or snack time. Adapt to their quirky specifications, if necessary.