Egg salad with onions and mayonnaise — des oeufs à l’oignon — is a dish often served among the French Jewish community. This is most likely due to the Polish or Russian origins of many French Ashkenazi Jews. I first encountered the dish at the home of my boyfriend many years ago, and found it a delicious variation on the egg salad with celery and mayo I had known growing up in the States. But times have changed and many people prefer their egg salad lighter these days. In this version, the eggs are chopped, placed on a bed of tender spinach leaves, and seasoned with red onion rings, lemon and olive oil.
Salade d’épinards aux oeufs et oignons rouges / Spinach salad with egg and red onions
The charm of this salad lies in its simplicity. It can be prepared at a moment’s notice, in any season. It makes a lovely lunch dish, served with toast or Russian-style black bread, and can be enhanced by any number of side dishes — soup, thin-sliced country ham, a cheese plate, or another salad. For a festive touch, sprinkle some red caviar over the top. Or place some fresh herbs on the side for a burst of extra flavor.
As an everyday chef, I have nothing against packaged baby spinach leaves, or other greens, which are pre-cleaned and sorted and thus far easier to use. If instead you buy your spinach at the market, wash it at least twice to remove all the sand. And by the way, if you prefer you can use a different sort of tender leaves: arugula, baby chard, curly endive, Belgian endive or lamb’s lettuce are some of the possibilities.
There is finally a scent of spring in the air here in Paris, and new vegetables and fruits are poking up here and there at the markets. Last weekend I bought my first fresh peas of the season (imported from Morocco), and walked past stands of brilliant red strawberries, withstanding temptation only due to the high price. The flower sellers are offering small pots of narcissus, hyacinth and amaryllis, which you can take home to provide an early touch of springtime. It’s cheery after the long, gray winter. Here’s wishing you all a beautiful early start to spring on Valentine’s Day, with hearts, flowers and sweetness.