A Belated Ode to Spring: Smoked Trout and Egg Salad Tartine + Green Salad with Peas, Radishes, and Homemade Ranch

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Yes, it’s kind of too late for good spring veggies now. And Yes, I made this over month ago with the intention of sharing it when peas, lettuce, and chives were in their prime, but I was lazy about getting my act together to post it. But also—Yes, it was so light and delicious and springy that I ate it for lunch for two weeks in a row. And Yes, it is seriously the best egg salad I’ve ever had. And Yes, you could totally redo the green salad with summer produce. I’m thinking thinly sliced cucumbers, blanched green beans, and good tomatoes.

So, let’s step inside my time machine and go back to the garden circa mid-May. The tarragon, sage, and chives were so robust that after being delighted to see them coming back, I starting willing them to stop growing already! because they were taking over the herb garden. Thanks to weeks of showers, the lettuce was looking worthy of being displayed at a farmer’s market, and it had actually stopped raining long enough for me to go outside and pick some. And the peas were finally fattening up enough to convince me that they were, in fact, sweet peas and not sugar snaps. (I checked the seed package more than once to make sure.)

Version 2These vegetables needed to get eaten—not only because they were ready to be picked, but also because I had plans to rip them up in order to make room for planting tomatoes and green beans. Look, I have limited space, and peas and lettuce don’t get to extend their rent for a month when there are summer vegetables that need to get in the ground.

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The lettuce I used, by the way, was Green Ice Lettuce from Burpee. I have planted many a mesclun mix that bolted too quickly and included some varieties with tough or bitter leaves, but this Green Ice lettuce was perfect if you’re looking for a crisp, sweet leaf. I will definitely stop experimenting with other types of lettuce and will be planting more of this next year.

I wanted to make a salad that would include my peas and other spring produce and herbs, but Woman Cannot Survive on Vegetables Alone. Egg salad to the rescue, made infinitely better with the addition of a can of smoked trout from Trader Joe’s. I held it together with more sour cream than mayo, because sour cream goes with fish, right? Bonus: if you have a super skinny dog like I do and are constantly trying to fatten her up (or at least convince her to eat her food), I can assure you that she will gobble up her whole bowl of kibble if you pour the leftover oil from the can of trout over it.

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Note: The ranch dressing is adapted, barely, from the recipe in The Splendid Table’s How to Eat Supper by Lynn Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift.


Smoked Trout and Egg Salad Tartine + Green Salad with Peas, Radishes, and Homemade Ranch 

serves 4

For the egg salad:

  • 4 hard-boiled eggs
  • 1 can, about 4 oz., smoked trout (I used a 3.9 oz. can from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp. sour cream
  • 2 Tbsp. snipped chives
  • scant 1/4 tsp. table salt
  • a few grinds of freshly ground pepper
  • 4 big slices good bread; the photo shows a smallish slice of rye but in week 2 of this meal, I discovered that a generous piece of an Italian boule is better
  1. Peel and coarsely chop the eggs. In a bowl, combine everything except the bread and smash together with a fork. Adjust seasoning if needed.

For the green salad:

  • about 8 c. chopped or torn lettuce leaves
  • about 1/2 c. sweet peas, blanched for 1 minute
  • 1 c. sugar snap peas, trimmed and sliced on the diagonal into 1/2″ pieces
  • 4 large radishes, trimmed and sliced as thinly as possible
  • fresh chive blossoms
  1. Toss everything together. Or pile the lettuce on plates and arrange the veggies on top so it looks prettier.

For the dressing:

  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
  • splash of fish sauce
  • 1/4 c. mayonnaise
  • 1/3 c. buttermilk
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced or microplaned
  • 1 tsp. each fresh basil, fresh parsley, and fresh chives, all chopped together
  • salt and pepper
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a glass jar with a tight lid. Shake to mix well. Adjust seasoning if necessary.

For the assembly:

  1. Toast the bread slices and top them with the egg salad.
  2. Dress the salad.
  3. Eat, and marvel at how satisfying vegetables and toast are. Yum yum yum.

 

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(Mostly) Egg White (Sort of) Frittata

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I did not make this (sort of) frittata from (mostly) egg whites because I wanted it to be healthier and threw away all the yolks. (That will happen after I enjoy holiday food.) No, it has mostly egg whites because I had a ton of them leftover after making lemon curd, pastry cream, and tart crusts. Why the glut of decadent desserts? Well, I’m not above bribing my students, so every year between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I give them raffle tickets when they participate, and then we have a drawing for prizes on the last day of class before winter break. This year, tartlets, eclairs, madeleines, and—the most prized possession of all—homework passes were in the mix.

After the frenzy of baking, I made a mental note to collect money from my classes next year and buy treats from a local bakery in order to maintain my sanity. And then I tried to figure out what to make with the 7 egg whites and 1 whole egg (it didn’t want to separate nicely) that I had. Anything sweet was out of the question because I was on a sugar overload after all those bowls and beaters that I had licked, so a frittata seemed like the best way to go. And, as the title says, it’s not really a “frittata” because it’s cooked entirely in the oven and not at all on the stovetop. I supposed you could call it a “crustless quiche,” but “crustless quiche” makes me feel the same way a lot of people do when they hear the word “moist,” so I’d prefer to misname it a frittata. Also, it’s cooked in a cast iron pan, which is not nearly dainty enough for anything that calls itself a quiche.

I make frittatas pretty frequently; I usually use whole eggs and keep it vegetarian. I was afraid that the egg whites would make it bland, though, so I fancied it up a little more than I usually would. First, I found some Trader Joe’s chicken breakfast sausage links in the freezer, so I browned up a couple of them to add. Next, I harvested all the kale in the garden that’s threatening to die every time a frost comes around. It’s Red Russian kale, which supposed to be very cold tolerant, but it looked like it might be on its last leg.

I like my frittatas with a lot—and I do mean a lot—of vegetables. Even though my pile of kale was overflowing the salad spinner, it barely weighed 8 ounces, so I decided to use all of it.

Next, I usually just toss in some raw onion, but I caramelized half of a yellow onion instead. Finally, for the cheese, we had provolone but, oddly enough, it was a really nice provolone that was quite strong, and I found it to be almost overwhelming. So, I used just a bit of it and added some mozzarella for gooeyness and to let the other flavors come through.

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Note: I was double-checking the size of the skillet I used, and it says 5 on it, but it was about 7″ in diameter. And so I learned that the numbers on cast iron skillets correspond to certain standard pan sizes, not the actual diameter in inches of the pan.

You could make this in the same size pan with 4 whole eggs instead of egg whites. Also, my 8 oz. of kale didn’t need to be de-stemmed. If you have to de-stem your greens, you might want to start out with more than 8 oz., or just weigh them after you stem them instead of before. For the sausage,  I used 2 links of  breakfast sausage, and they weighed about 2 1/2 oz. before I cooked them. Lastly, this frittata reheats nicely in the microwave and will keep well for a day, but after much longer than that, the cheese will start to take on an unpleasant texture.


(Mostly) Egg White (Sort of) Frittata

serves 2-3

  • 1 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 oz. kale or other cooking greens
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion
  • 7 egg whites and 1 whole egg
  • 2-3 oz. sausage, cooked and then cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 oz. provolone or mozzarella, or a combination of both
  • kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Add 1 tsp. of the olive oil to a #5 (6.75″) cast iron skillet, and put it in the oven to warm up while you prep everything else.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat. When it’s warm, add the minced garlic and stir until just fragrant, 30 seconds or so. Add a handful of the greens and a couple of healthy pinches of kosher salt and stir until the greens start to wilt. Keep adding greens by the handful until they’re all in the pot and are completely wilted. Remove from heat and let cool. This will happen faster if you put them in a different bowl instead of leaving them in the pot.
  3. While the greens are cooling, caramelize the onion. First, heat 1 more tsp. of the olive oil with the 1 tsp. of butter in a small pan over over medium-high heat. Slice the onion thinly crosswise. When the pan is hot, add the onion and a pinch of kosher salt and cook, stirring constantly, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Turn the heat down to medium low and keep cooking, stirring regularly, until well-browned, about 10-15 minutes more. Remove from heat.
  4. Dice the cheese into 1/4″ to 1/3″ cubes. You could grate it, but I like how it doesn’t disappear into the frittata if you leave it chunkier.
  5. By this time, your greens should be cool. Squeeze them out as much as you can. Seriously, put some muscle into it and get them as dry as you can; otherwise, it while make your eggs gross and watery. Chop up the squeezed-out greens.
  6. Whisk the egg whites and egg in a medium bowl. Add the sausage, greens, onion, and cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste, but keep in mind that you’ve already salted the greens and the onion, and that the sausage has salt too.
  7. Use an oven mitt ! to remove your hot cast-iron skillet from the oven. The oil should be nice and shimmery. Swirl the oil around or use a spatula spread it out until it evenly coats the bottom of the pan, and then add the egg mixture and smooth the top. Cook for about 25 minutes, or until the eggs are done.
  8. Remove from the oven and run a rubber spatula around the edges of the pan to loosen up the frittata a little. Let it cool for 5-10 minutes, then use the rubber spatula to slide the whole thing out of the pan. Enjoy immediately, or wait until it cools completely and then refrigerate it for later.