Cornichons Are The Crunchy Ingredient Your Egg Salad Is Missing

Egg salad is a retro classic that is creamy, soft, and comforting. It hasn't strayed far from its original recipe, a well-balanced blend of mayo, mustard, coarsely chopped hard-boiled eggs, and sometimes chopped celery or red onion. While there's comfort in its predictability, taking a chance on a novel twist might just pay off.

Cornichons are the secret ingredient that'll lead to a successful new version of egg salad. Also known as French gherkins, cornichons are bite-sized pickles made from young cucumbers that undergo salting, then a multi-step pickling process. They soak in vinegar and spice seeds overnight, then simmer in the same vinegar mixture before being jarred. In addition to whole spices like clove, mustard seeds, and tarragon, cornichons are also pickled with pearl onions.

These gherkins have wonderful crunch and bumpy skin, and their flavor is equal parts sweet, tangy, and salty. They add crunch to the soft and creamy texture of egg salad while enriching its flavor. Cornichons complement rich, savory egg yolks and enhance the tanginess of mustard and mayo. You could skip the fresh red onions and use diced pearl onions from the cornichon jar for an extra dose of sweet and spicy.

Different ways to incorporate cornichons into egg salad dishes

Cornichons pack a complex punch of flavors in one, small, bite-sized pickle. Since one of their most common application is as a charcuterie garnish for ultra-rich, heavily spiced cured meats, they can stand up to other intense flavors. You can get creative with egg salad recipes by pairing cornichons with other unlikely ingredients like smoked paprika, horseradish, hot sauce, and fresh herbs. A blend of spicy brown mustard, dijon, and yellow mustard would enhance and play off of cornichons' flavor profile.

You could create a gourmet relish by blending chopped cornichons, capers, fresh dill, tarragon, and whole fresh mustard seed to fold into egg salad or spread over egg salad on an open-faced sandwich or breakfast toast. They'd also compliment egg salad sandwich toppings like fresh tomatoes, pickled or raw red onions, and even other types of pickled cucumbers like sweet butter pickles.

If you use egg as a stand-alone dish atop a bed of lettuce, the briney tartness of cornichons would pair well with chopped boiled beets and shredded carrots or alongside a cup of borscht. Whatever cornichons you have leftover from your egg salad, you can use them in tuna, potato, or chicken salad. They also belong in martinis as much as pearl onions do.