Chef John Gauley somehow succeeds in transubstantiating the pickled egg from dive-bar denizen to monastic salad-dweller!
The Pickled Eggs (make a week ahead)
• 1 dozen eggs
• 3 cups wine or cider vinegar
• 1 1/2 cups water
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
• 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
• 1/2 tablespoon whole cloves
• 1/2 tablespoon peppercorns
• 1 large or 2 small beets, peeled and sliced
• 3 garlic cloves, halved
• 1 red onion, cut in wedges
Place eggs in a large pot and cover with cold water. Place over medium heat and bring to a low simmer. Cover tightly, turn off the heat, and set the timer for 12 minutes. Then drain off the hot water, and cover the eggs with very cold water. When that water warms up replace it with cold water again. Roll each egg around on the counter to thoroughly crack the shell and place it back in the pot until they are all entirely cool. Peel the eggs, using running water as necessary to help remove the shells. Place the peeled eggs in large sturdy jars.
Meanwhile, place the rest of the ingredients in another large saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar melts. Cook, covered, very gently for about 15 minutes, or until beets are tender. Cool for a few minutes. Carefully pour the pickle-y beet mixture over the eggs. Cover the jars, and when they are cool enough, shake gently, then refrigerate for at least a few days, and up to a month.
Makes enough for several salads or snacks.
The Honey Vinaigrette
• 1 clove garlic
• 1 fat pinch salt
• freshly ground pepper, to taste
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• 1 tablespoon honey
• 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• 1/2 cup olive oil
With a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic with the salt and a few grinds of pepper. Mash in the mustard, honey, and vinegar, and then add the olive oil in a fine stream until emulsified. Taste and correct seasonings. (Alternatively, you may mince the garlic, salt, and pepper extremely finely on a cutting board, scrape it into a small bowl, and whisk in the other ingredients, ending, once again, with the olive oil in a fine stream. Or you can chuck everything in a food processor and whiz until emulsified.)
Makes about 3/4 cup; enough for the following salad.
• 3 bunches baby spinach, washed, trimmed, and spun dry
• 1 bunch arugula, washed, trimmed, and spun dry
• 1 cup or so snap peas or cherry tomatoes or other garden treat of your choice
• 1 6-ounce log fresh goat cheese
• leaves from 3 or 4 sprigs of fresh oregano or marjoram, minced
• 3 pickled eggs, sliced or cut in wedges
• honey vinaigrette (above)
Arrange the greens on a platter or individual salad plates. Top with the optional vegetables.
Roll the cheese log in the minced herb, and slice it into 12 pieces. Arrange them, along with the pickled eggs, on the salad. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and serve immediately.