The Lighter, Brighter Take on Egg Salad

Certain concepts seem to be stuck in another time. Egg salad always feels that way - a bit heavy and a bit basic with the tweaks in herbs or spices never feeling quite large enough to shift the genre. But that’s where Cal Peternell comes in. His recipes always have the feel of something you should have been making forever but are actually his own special spin. His newest book, Almonds, Anchovies and Pancetta, is a delight and is full of semi-vegetarian recipes that all fit that bill. I fell in love with his Salsa Rustica because it feels like a breath of fresh air to the egg salad mold. It serves the same purpose but without any mayo and ingredients to give depth and new life.

Cal came over to chat about the book and show us the recipe. So give the video a watch or make the recipe below and I promise you’ll become a Cal convert very quickly.

Salsa Rustica with Egg and Pancetta

Though the pork here is pancetta, this is basically bacon and egg sauce and you could, of course, make it with bacon if that’s how you feel. Small amounts of finely chopped oregano, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, or sage can be added as available. Spoon salsa rustica over grilled bread, grilled or roasted vegetables, roasted potatoes, sautéed greens, sliced tomatoes, boiled green beans, or cauliflower . . .

Makes about ¾ cup

2 eggs
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon cooking oil, olive or vegetable
3 ounces pancetta, cut into thin matchsticks
1 almond-size garlic clove, pounded (see page 6)
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
3 tablespoons good olive oil, plus more if needed

Hard-boil the eggs: Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil, slip in the eggs, and cook for 9 minutes. Cool and peel, then chop, grate, or push through a spider—I prefer the eggs to be pretty chunky. In a medium bowl, season the eggs with salt and pepper and set aside.

Meanwhile, warm a small skillet over medium-low heat, add the cooking oil, then the pancetta, and cook until it’s the way you like it: soft, crispy, or in between. Drain and set aside both the pancetta and the fat. 

Add the pancetta, garlic, parsley, olive oil, and a pinch of salt to the chopped eggs. Mix well, taste, and consider adding a tablespoon more of the olive oil or a tablespoon of the reserved pancetta fat. Spread everywhere, as if it were good news, which it is.


Variation: More good news, this from the salty sea: Replace the pancetta with 8 anchovy fillets, drained and chopped or pounded to a paste. Keep the eggs in there, or don’t.


From Almonds, Anchovies, and Pancetta by Cal Peternell. Copyright © 2018 by Cal Peternell. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.