Growing up on the coast, my parents used to take my sister and I off to the seaside every summer holiday, at least once a week while the weather was sunny. Packed into our obligatory cooler bag would be several rounds of exceptional egg and cress sandwiches, along with all the other essentials. Simple though they are, egg and cress sandwiches have easily worked their way into the heart of Britain (and perhaps further afield with the American egg salad). Perfect, I think, for a teatime treat on the beach, or indeed anywhere.
My one quibble with the egg and cress sandwiches of old is the practice of mushing the ingredients to within an inch of their lives. Cutting the eggs by hand into larger chunks of 12-16 pieces not only promotes an interesting texture, it improves the flavour and overall aesthetics of the sandwich. The addition of a sprinkling of paprika is also an important one. Though applied only conservatively, it adds an extra dimension of flavour and a sweet kick that complements the egg perfectly.
People often talk only in terms of hard-boiled and soft-boiled. There is, however, a middle ground that, while no good for dunking, works very well when chopping eggs. What you end up with is a warm, comforting yolk, with a luxurious texture, far nicer than the dry centre of a hard-boiled egg. Trust me, boil your egg for 5 minutes; it may seems strange, but you’ll thank me once you have.
Egg and Cress Open Sandwiches
- 4 eggs
- 1 spring onion, finely sliced
- 1 tbsp fresh cress
- 1 tbsp mayonnaise
- a pinch of salt
- 2 slices bread, lightly toasted
- sweet paprika to serve
- Immerse your eggs in cold water and bring to the boil. Once boiling, cook your eggs for exactly 5 minutes. Once cooked transfer them to a bowl of cold water and leave to cool.
- Crack your eggs all over and peel carefully. Rinse and cut into 12-16 pieces each. Place the slices of egg in a large mixing bowl and combine with the spring onion, half the cress, mayonnaise and salt.
- Spoon the eggy mixture on to the slices of lightly toasted bread and sprinkle with paprika. Garnish with the remaining cress and serve.
Cost: Though sometimes expensive in supermarkets, good-quality free-range eggs can be bought very cheaply at your local grocers. Half a dozen eggs should set you back no more than £1.20. As such, these delicious egg and cress open sandwiches should set you back around £1.20 (bearing in mind you use 4 eggs, rather than 6!).