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Smoky egg salad lettuce boats with caramelized onions {vegetarian}

Smoky egg salad lettuce boats, a picnic-perfect twist on the classic.

When it comes to egg salad, I'm a straight-up gal. Hard-boiled eggs, really good mayonnaise, black pepper, and nothing more. Oh, occasionally I'll toss in a bit of celery. Perfection. And yet... sometimes, I have to cut loose, and when I do, I turn to my spice rack and pantry for inspiration. The combination of eggs and caramelized onions takes me back to childhood, when my grandmother used to combine the two with chopped liver for the classic Jewish appetizer. I think if she'd had smoked paprika on hand (I'm sure she never heard of it), she might have added a pinch of that as well, because I love how just the tiniest bit of smoky pepper plays off the sweet onions. Depending on whether you like your egg salad with a kick, use mild or hot smoked paprika (it also comes in a bittersweet variety, which is midway between the two on the heat scale). If lettuce boats aren't your thing, stuff this egg salad into a pita or crusty roll, or fold it into a tortilla wrap. You can make all of the components a few hours (or days) ahead, and assemble at the last minute, so it's great for picnics.

Smoked paprika and caramelized onions give this egg salad an edge!

Smoky egg salad lettuce boats with caramelized onions

From the pantry, you'll need: eggs, onion, olive oil, mayonnaise, smoked paprika (mild or hot), ground cumin, kosher salt.

Serves 2-3; can be multiplied.


1 small onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
2 tsp minced red bell pepper
1/4 tsp smoked paprika (pimentón), sweet or hot
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2-3 large Romaine lettuce leaves
2 tsp chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish


In a small nonstick frying pan, combine the onion and olive oil, and cook over low heat for 5 minutes or more, until the onion is brown but not crisp. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the eggs, mayonnaise, bell pepper, smoked paprika, cumin, and salt. Add the onion plus any oil in the frying pan, and mix well. Taste, and adjust the seasonings to your liking.

Divide the egg mixture among the lettuce leaves, and top each with a sprinkling of cilantro.

Serve chilled.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More egg salad variations, for picnic days ahead:
Egg salad with avocado, jalapeño and lime, from The Perfect Pantry
Lemon-dill egg salad, from The Perfect Pantry
Chicken and egg salad with tarragon mustard vinaigrette, from The Perfect Pantry
Curried egg salad, from 101 Cookbooks
Egg salad with bacon and creamy honey mustard dressing, from An Edible Mosaic

Smoky egg salad lettuce boats with caramelized onions. #vegetarian

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I love the sound of this, and I'm wondering why I never thought of serving egg salad in lettuce. Great idea!

Kalyn, egg salad was one of my staples when I was a kid, and I still love it today. This is a nice variation!

Definitely a little mustard....

chives was the traditional addition to 'egg salad', and celery salt, seed, finely chopped celery; yes, called that but was sandwich filling, not eaten as 'salad'. Eggs shells are porous, so I have often wondered if one could pre-flavout eggs by making additions to the cooking water. I have tried adding onion, but at a loss to taste the difference. Still think it is possible--because I foolishly 'boiled' eggs in sulphur well water once, with dreadful results and they were discarded. (Yes, we say 'hard-boiled' eggs, but we know they do not have to be 'boiled' to be cooked to hardness.

Dave, mustard in egg salad is always good.

Shirley, I've never tried pre-flavoring eggs, except making tea eggs by cracking the shells before soaking hard-cooked eggs in tea.

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