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A beautiful egg and cress sandwich is a simple but special British classic. Here's how to make the perfect one, and why.
Why we love this recipe
We lived in London for a few years and were vegetarian for much of that time. The egg and cress sandwich quickly became one of my go-to lunches from Pret and other better-than-American convenience food shops. In the ensuing years, it's continued to beguile me with its irresistible combination of nostalgia and deliciousness.
This sandwich has:
- Simple, creamy, assertively seasoned egg salad
- Peppery watercress
- Soft, flavorful whole-grain bread
- And absolutely nothing else, which is exactly how it should be
I first published this recipe here in 2011, when we'd just returned from a school- and flat-scouting trip for our move to London. You can read the full story by scrolling below the recipe card.
What you'll need
Here's a glance at the ingredients you'll need to make this recipe.
- In England, the cress in this sandwich refers to garden cress (sometimes called mustard and cress or mustard cress). In the U.S., I use watercress, a related and much more widely available green. It makes a beautiful, peppery, and totally apt companion to the simple egg salad. You can use either one.
- Use the best eggs you can find, and boil them perfectly
- You can use a good-quality supermarket mayo, an easy homemade version, or my favorite, extra-savory option: Kewpie mayo. This Japanese brand is creamier, tangier, and more umami-fied than its American counterpart.
- For the bread, I like something vaguely whole-grain-leaning but also soft and tender. I usually use Oatnut sandwich bread. Leave it untoasted.
How to make it
Here's an overview of what you'll do to make a perfect egg and cress sandwich. You can see the steps in action in the video that accompanies this post, and get all the details in the recipe card below.
- Break up your perfect hard-boiled eggs with a fork.
- Mix in the mayo, salt, and pepper.
- Spread evenly onto one slice of the bread and top with cress.
- Close sandwich, cut in half, and serve right away.
Expert tips and FAQs
Unsurprisingly, an egg and cress sandwich is great with a few slices of bacon tucked in. I also love combining it with another U.K. Pret classic and adding a few slices of smoked salmon.
You can make the egg salad up to a week in advance and store in an airtight container in the fridge. Assemble the sandwich just before serving.
More nostalgic favorites from London
- 3 hard-boiled eggs
- 3 tablespoons (45 grams) mayonnaise
- ⅛ to ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt, to taste
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 slices soft whole-grain bread
- 1 handful watercress
- Peel the eggs, place into a small mixing bowl, and mash well with a fork.
- Add mayonnaise, salt, and pepper, and continue mashing until nicely combined.
- Spread mixture evenly over one slice of bread.
- Top with watercress and the other bread slice. Cut sandwich in half and serve immediately.
- You can make the egg salad up to a week in advance and store in an airtight container in the fridge. Assemble the sandwich just before serving.
- The original recipe instructions from 2011 said, "Just go ahead and make the sandwich, mate." It's good to know I have a long history of amusing myself, if no one else.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 556Total Fat: 33.4gCarbohydrates: 41.3gFiber: 6.8gProtein: 13.6g
To England, where my heart lies.
Before I had memories, I had nostalgia. I pined for other people’s memories. By 1990 I was 14, with no notable romantic experience under my belt (or above it, for that matter) and not a modicum of worldliness to speak of. I really, truly didn’t have my groove on yet. What I did have on — on repeat on my boom box, to be precise — was Kathy’s Song.
If you want to know how I feel about moving to London, pop in your earbuds and listen to it while you read this post. For the full effect, you’ll have to imagine me singing along with the same descant I made up 20 years ago — because, you know, where would a Paul Simon love song be without girlie parts?
It's London, now that you mention it.
Maybe you pined a bit in your adolescence as well. Maybe you grew out of it. Me? Not as much. To this day, I don’t think of happiness as something you show with a smile on your face. Contentment, instead, is a lump in the throat and a diffuse but energizing longing in the soul. It’s a drizzly day, a gentle nudge out of the comfort zone, an adjusted but not totally unrecognizable perspective.
It’s forging ahead while remembering to look back with kindness. “Cress” where you once had watercress, “nicking” a parking spot without denting a car, and, apparently, calling everything from a living room to a kindergarten class “reception.” It’s London, now that you mention it.
Last week we went flat- and school-hunting in the city that is soon to be our home. It wasn’t all English rose bushes, tiny Richard Branson look-alikes sitting next to us on Virgin Atlantic, and smartly dressed female real estate brokers saying, “Just stick it in there and jiggle it like a bastard. Excuse my language.” Though those were a few of the highlights.
The London food scene, uneaten
There were also sleepless nights with jet-lagged children, and, amazingly, a complete lack of time and energy to explore the food scene in any way, at all, whatsoever, in each and every real or imagined capacity. There was no Borough Market, no Barrafina, no Gelupo, no St. John, no Hix, no The Eagle, no Morito, no Vinoteca, no Andrew Edmunds, no Mandarin Oriental, no Yalla Yalla, no Harwood Arms, no Tayyabs, no Neal’s Yard Dairy, and no Cookbook Cafe, despite all of your helpful suggestions.
You can be sure that we will hit that list HARD when we arrive for reals in July. (Book your flights now, won’t you please?)
Egg & Cress
Instead of any of that, I was tailed around the city for five days straight by an egg and watercress sandwich operating under the alias Egg & Cress. It even followed me home on the plane. I kept eating it, but then there it was again. Sometimes it jumped off the shelves at the market. Twice we found it in a small sandwich shop next to Cope’s new office. Once it was handed to me by a flight attendant. Clearly Egg & Cress really likes me.
Thank goodness I like it, too. It makes me happy. Not smiley happy, of course. It’s more of a heightened-awareness-of-beauty-due-to-viewpoint-set-askew, deliciousness-in-dissonance kind of happy. Not a bad day’s work for a sandwich, right? Still, I think I’ll save the full Kathy’s Song treatment for Borough Market. Assuming we ever make it there.