Irish salad sandwiches have been made by nearly every Irish house wife over the past five decades. Sometimes called egg and onion sandwiches, or egg and tomato sandwiches, these triangular sandwiches may or may not include lettuce.
I include lettuce in my version, but trust me, there is no right or wrong way to make a salad sandwich. It’s totally up to you whether you like more egg than tomato, or salad cream rather than mayonnaise to mix the filling.
Made for get togethers big and small, these are a staple of quick entertaining menus in Ireland.
Many a plate of salad sandwiches has been whipped together to bring to a funeral gathering or wake, or for a family Christening, Communion or Confirmation celebration.
Hotels often serve these sandwiches as a light nibble at the end of wedding celebrations.
Mrs. Doyle’s Diagonals:
These are the sandwiches Mrs. Doyle made famous when she said ….
Mrs. Doyle is a TV character from the brilliant comedy “Fr. Ted”.
An ever diligent housekeeper, Mrs. Doyle made sandwiches by the dozen, cut in diagonals and served with aplomb to bishops and parishoners alike. Who can forget her urging????
“Ah, go on, go on, go on!
You’ll have one”
Never refuse a diagonal from Mrs. Doyle. She’s mashed eggs by the dozen and carefully removed top crusts to make the most delicious Irish salad sandwiches ever!!!!
Pregnancy Cravings for Salad Sandwiches:
My yearning for salad sandwiches was reignited when I was pregnant with my triplets. My mother came over from Ireland to help me towards the end of my pregnancy, and one day she made me salad sandwiches for lunch.
I had forgotten how delicious this mix of egg, tomato, onion and lettuce can be. I was hooked. I ate my mom’s diagonals by the dozen until my trio were born. Perhaps that’s why my little girl loves these sandwiches for lunch.
I’m still known to whip up a batch for a girls only lunch.
Now, Irish sandwiches are far thinner than their American counterparts.
The old saying goes that everything is bigger and better in America. Sandwiches definitely fit the bigger bill, but maybe not better. Equal and different in deliciousness is how I will judge this taste contest.
I’ll never forget my first American work day lunch at the hospital canteen in Elmira, New York.
I ordered a sandwich at the deli counter, expecting a one inch high Irish sandwich, only to be astounded by the door-step size mountain that appeared before me.
I don’t think I finished a quarter of that sandwich. I quickly learned to order a half sandwich for lunch in the hospital canteen.
These salad sandwiches would fit the category of tea sandwich in America.
Here’s how I make them…..
Ingredients for Irish Salad Sandwiches.
4 slices of sandwich bread
1 to 2 ounces of butter to spread on bread
2 hard boiled eggs
1 Roma tomato or 2 small petite tomatoes
2 green onions or scallions
2 leaves of butter lettuce
1/8 cup of mayonnaise
Salt and pepper
Directions For Irish Egg Salad Sandwiches:
Let’s start by preparing the filling for these sandwiches. It’s basically mashed hard boiled egg with tomatoes, shredded lettuce and diced green onions.
It’s important to scoop the pulp and seeds out of the tomatoes and only use the outer flesh.
The seeds and pulp making the filling too wet and watery, so I halve my tomatoes and use a teaspoon to scoop out the tomato innards.
In the picture above you can see how juice starts collecting in the scooped out tomato shell. I turn the half tomato shells upside down to drain before I dice them.
Dice the tomato flesh into small 1/2 cm size pieces.
I used 2 cocktail tomatoes which are similar in size to Irish tomatoes. One Roma tomato will work very well for this recipe. They tend to be more fleshy than other tomatoes so just perfect for making this filling.
No big junks needed for these sambos. Just small little pieces.
Slice the green onions very thinly.
I only use the lower white portions, and stop where they get leafy and turn dark green, about 1/2 to 2/3’s way up the stalk.
Next shred the lettuce.
I use Butter lettuce since this was the type of lettuce I knew as a child in Ireland. It’s sold in American grocery stores as “living” lettuce.
This lettuce is softer and less crunchy than Romaine or Iceberg lettuce. If you prefer crunchier texture, then use one of these lettuces.
But I stick to Butter lettuce, to make sandwiches like I knew as a child.
Next it’s time to mix all the filling ingredients together.
Place the mashed egg, diced tomatoes, shredded lettuce and diced green onion on a plate and mix it with the mayonnaise.
Many Irish cooks use salad cream instead of mayonnaise. This is an egg emulsion similar to mayonnaise but with the addition of vinegar and mustard, and a few secret spices only known to Heinz and the makers of Chef salad cream.
It’s very important to season the filling mixture with salt and pepper.
I don’t use much salt when I cook, but trust me, this filling needs some added salt.
Next it’s time to butter the bread. You can choose not to butter the bread, but in Ireland salad sandwich bread is always buttered.
When preparing the bread, always take two slices and open them so that two matching sides are buttered.
I remember buttering a whole slice pan the wrong way as a child. I just dipped in and buttered the upper side of every slice, instead of taking the slices in pairs and opening them for a perfect match. We learn by our mistakes!
My mom made topsy turvy sandwiches that day, but hey, nothing has to be perfect in life.
Next, divide the filling in two. Spread it over one buttered slice of bread from each pair of slices.
Once you place the top slice on each sandwich, use a bread or serrated knife to remove the top crust. Then cut the sandwich into four triangles, with two diagonal cuts.
In Ireland, I would remove all the crusts, since our sliced pans are much larger than in America. Sliced pan is bigger in Ireland, and I will dare to say much, much better than the American sandwich bread. It’s a lot less sweet. Eliminating all the crusts on an Irish sandwich doesn’t reduce each triangular section to miniscule size like it does in America.
I leave the crusts on in America. I used a country white sliced loaf of bread for these sandwiches, and the crusts are very soft.
And there you have it, Irish salad sandwiches.
They’re delicious served with chips. I only had American barbecue chips for my photo shoot, but my all time favorite is a packet of Tayto cheese and onion crisps with an Irish salad sandwich. Yum-meee!
And don’t forget a cuppa tea to enjoy with your lunch.
These little sandwiches are a perfect addition to any afternoon tea menu. These are always the first tea sandwiches I choose when enjoying an afternoon tea treat.
Here’s the printable recipe …
- 4 slices of sandwich bread
- 1 to 2 ounces of butter to spread on bread
- 2 hard boiled eggs
- 1 Roma tomato or 2 small petite tomatoes
- 2 green onions or scallions
- 2 leaves of butter lettuce
- 1/8 cup of mayonnaise
- Salt and pepper
- Start by preparing the filling for these sandwiches.
- Halve the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds and pulp, and discard. Dice the outer tomato flesh into 1/2 cm size pieces.
- Slice the green onions very thinly.
- Mash the hard boiled eggs.
- Shred the lettuce leaves thinly.
- Mix the mashed hard boiled egg, diced tomatoes, green onions, lettuce and mayonnaise.
- Season the filling with salt and pepper to taste.
- Butter each pair of bread slices on the touching, matching sides..
- Divide the filling in two and spread over the buttered side of two bread slices. Top each sandwich with its paired buttered bread slice.
- Cut away the top crust of each sandwich. Divide into four triangles by slicing each sandwich with two crossing diagonal cuts.
- Arrange on a sandwich plate and serve with hot tea, and a side of chips or crisps.
Happy sandwich making!
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)