I’ve always loved coloring eggs for Easter. I was one of the little kids in the grocery store begging my mom for the latest and greatest version of dye kits. As I grew to a bigger kid, I wanted to experiment with crayons and strings and oil and all kinds of things to make my eggs unique. And even though I knew there’d be no kids around this year, no grandkids to fuss over, I still wanted to mess around with the eggs. Nothing like the aroma of vinegar in the air! Smells like Easter!
This year, I took the adult, even green, route and decided I’d try my hand at coloring with natural dyes. I’d read a couple different articles (one from Fine Cooking, one from Prevention) and decided I had enough of the suggested items to make my experiment worthwhile. At least for making egg salad sandwiches afterward.
The directions sounded simple enough: Take 4 cups of chopped or mashed fruit or veggie matter, or 4 tablespoons of spices, and cover with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil, add 2 tablespoons vinegar (I’m guessing any kind will do) and simmer for 30 minutes. Then add your eggs and let them steep in the refrigerator several hours or overnight, turning occasionally, and you’ll end up with a veritable rainbow of egg colors.
Because I’ve been trying to maintain a compost pile, I save my kitchen scraps and I’d had some onion skins, so I set them aside for my experiment. I was intrigued by the possibilities of colors. Some of them were pretty obvious: spinach got you green eggs, grape juice, purple, coffee or tea, beige. With chili powder you got orange; with turmeric or cumin, bright yellow. There was one big surprise, though: red cabbage made blue eggs! I wish I would have had some.
What I did have were onion skins, a mix of red and yellow. I only had about two cups, so I halved the recipe, enough for half a dozen eggs, more than enough for me and my husband. The picture shows you the result: a kind of marbled yellow brown. I wrapped rubber bands around the eggs before dipping. They would have looked really cool if I’d dipped them into another color afterwards.
I declared the experiment a success and will start earlier next Easter. Then I really will have too many eggs. We often have eggs on tossed salads or will just eat a couple hard-cooked eggs for a quick lunch. Growing up, my mother always garnished cooked spinach with hard-cooked eggs and vinegar. And I really do like egg salad. My husband could eat deviled eggs every day, I think.
One recipe that makes good use of too many hard-cooked eggs and one that I’ve often made is a broccoli ring, a savory gelatin salad. I used to think that all gelatin salads were sweet and fruity so this one caught my attention a long time ago and has remained a staple, a back-of-the-shelf staple, but a favorite of mine nevertheless.
1 pound fresh broccoli, cooked and chopped
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 14 ½ ounce can beef broth
¾ cup mayonnaise
4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
hot sauce, if desired
4 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
In medium saucepan, soften the gelatin in the broth. Stir over low heat till the gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in the mayonnaise, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, salt and hot sauce, to taste. Fold in drained broccoli and chopped eggs. Pour into a 5 ½ cup ring mold. Cover and chill several hours or overnight until firm. To serve, unmold onto lettuce lined plate, and garnish center with cherry tomatoes, additional lettuce and broccoli buds. Makes 10 servings.