Planning to hide brightly colored hard-boiled eggs around the house for Easter Sunday? Make sure to remember where you hid them. Otherwise, come June they’ll emit not-so-gentle reminders.
The practice of decorating eggs predates the Christian holiday of Easter. Engraved ostrich eggs estimated to be 60,000 years old have been discovered in Africa, and it was common practice to include decorated ostrich eggs in the graves of wealthy Egyptians and Sumerians some 5,000 year ago.
Easter eggs, also known as Paschal eggs, date back to Christianity’s earliest years. In the beginning, they were stained red to reflect the crucifixion. For many Christians, the potential of eggs to produce life symbolizes Christ rising from the dead.
Although the annual egg-dying ritual is a messy process, the nutritional value of hard-boiled eggs far outweighs those of the jelly beans, chocolate bunnies and marshmallow chicks found in Easter baskets.
The carbohydrate-free egg is an excellent source of protein and calcium, as well as vitamins A, B-12 and D. The yolks may be a little long on cholesterol and the primary source of the 78 calories found in each large chicken egg, but the benefits outweigh the liabilities when eggs are consumed in moderation.
But following the traditional Sunday morning egg hunt, when two or three dozen colorful ovoids are stacked in cheap wicker baskets on your kitchen counter, moderate consumption does not come to mind. The fun is over. Now what to do with all those Easter eggs?
Here are some recipes that will help you deplete the supply.
Credit Thomas Keller, owner and chef extraordinaire of Napa Valley’s The French Laundry, for creating the dish on which this recipe is based. Few chefs can make a dish so elegant out of ingredients so ordinary.
¼ cup Dijon mustard
½ cup red wine vinegar
1½ cups canola oil
Combine mustard and vinegar in a blender and bend for about 15 seconds. Slowly drizzle 1/2 cup of the oil into the blender while it is still running. (You’re looking for a creamy texture.) Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and whisk in the remaining oil.
2 lbs. of fresh asparagus
1 tbsp. and 2 tsps. extra-virgin olive oil, plus a little more for drizzling
4 hard-boiled eggs
2 large radishes
3 tbsp. of the vinaigrette you just made
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. minced chives
Freshly ground black pepper
Remove the tough ends of the asparagus spears and discard. Further trim the ends until the spears are of equal lengths and this time save the trimmings. Bring a large pot of salt water to a boil and prepare an ice bath. Divide spears into four piles and, with tips facing the same direction, use kitchen twine to tie the piles into bundles.
Blanch the bundles in the boiling water for 4 to 6 minutes, then drop into the ice water bath. Take the tender, trimmed asparagus ends and drop them into the boiling water and blanch 4 to 7 minutes, or until tender enough to purée.
Once the asparagus bundles are cold, transfer them to a paper towel and remove the twine. Cover asparagus and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes — but you can finish this part of the recipe up to a day before serving.
Once the asparagus trimmings are tender, put them in a strainer and plunge them into the ice bath, careful to preserve 1/2 cup of the boiling liquid. Once cool, add the trimmings to a blender with enough of the boiling liquid to cover the blades. Pulse to break up the asparagus fibers, then blend into a puree. Once the mixture is smooth, blend in 1 tbsp. of the olive oil and season with salt to taste. (You can add more cooking liquid if necessary.) Cover and refrigerate for up to a day before serving.
To prepare the dish, remove the yolks from the hard-boiled eggs, push through the large holes in a grater, then finely chop into egg-yolk confetti. Clean radishes and discard tops. Finely slice the radishes, then slice the slices into fine sticks.
Arrange asparagus into 4 stacks on a cutting board or work surface, then season with a pinch of salt. Spoon 2 tbsps. of the asparagus puree each into the center of four serving plates, then top with the spears. Spoon 2 tsps. of the vinaigrette over each mound of spears, then sprinkle about 2 tsps. of the egg yolks over each serving. Season with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper.
Toss the radish sticks with the chives, 2 tsps. of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Divide the radish mixture among the servings on top of the egg yolk mixture and drizzle lightly with additional oil. Serve chilled.