Easter has come and gone. Christ has risen! We've come together with friends and family to share and celebrate the miracle of the Resurrection and the new life of spring. Then all the guests go home, and you're left with lots of food: meat, potatoes, vegetables It can be a challenge to think of new ways to use the leftovers.
Most people build the Easter menu around ham and eggs. All of those Easter egg hunts have left you with lots of colorful hard-cooked eggs!
Hopefully, you used natural dyes when you colored your eggs. Sure, you can add them to lunches and use them as afternoon snacks. But those cooked eggs can also add flavor and color to many dishes.
And then there's the ham. If you have a ham bone, use it to make a delicious bean soup. But even a boneless or spiral ham allows you to dice up the leftovers meat, and freeze it in 1- or 2-cup portions. Then when you're ready to use it, just defrost and add leftover cooked ham to a casserole, skillet, stir-fry or salad.
Many people avoid using leftovers - but with the invention of the freezer, leftovers can be the bedrock of many new dishes. Use your imagination to put the ingredients together in creative, novel ways.
Spring is time for fresh, green salads. And both ham and eggs can make just about any side salad into a delectable main dish. Consider a salad of fresh spring greens; adding one or two chopped cooked eggs adds a buttery flavor and creamy texture to the greens, and the yellow and white hues add color to the salad.
Eggs and ham can also be used in main dishes. Pasta, rice or tortillas combine well with ham and vegetables. For example, make enchiladas with tortillas, leftover ham, leftover salad, grated cheese and enchilada sauce. Combine pasta with leftover ham and veggies, and add a cheese or pesto sauce. Make a ham salad by adding lettuce, celery, apples and fold in a little mayonnaise. Cook up some rice to fry with the ham and vegetables; add some garlic and soy sauce for a fried rice entre, or combine rice with ham, vegetables, garlic and onions for a pilaf.
Use diced cooked ham in a variety of tortas and tart recipes.
Combine ham and cooked or sauteed veggies in a casserole, add a little gravy, and top with leftover mashed or sweet potatoes for a flavorful dish. It will be different depending on the vegetables you use. Add some diced ham to a butternut squash soup. The saltiness balances the sweet flavor of the gourd.
Here are a couple recipes to get you started.
Cabbage pie with
eggs and ham
2 strips bacon
1 medium head cabbage
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 cup diced cooked ham
1/4 cup shredded sharp cheese (like Cheddar)
3 medium potatoes
2 to 3 Tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cook bacon in large skillet; remove to paper towels when done and crisp. Peel and chop an onion, and add to the bacon drippings. Wash and roughly chop the cabbage, and add. Cover and cook until everything is tender (10 to 15 minutes), giving an occasional stir. Season with soy sauce, and crumble in the reserved bacon.
While cabbage cooks, make the crust:
Peel or scrub potatoes, and shred (a food processor or salad shooter does this quickly and easily).
Pour oil into 9-inch pie plate; oil bottom and sides. Add potatoes, and mix well with hands to coat, spreading them around to cover the bottom and sides of pie plate with the oiled potatoes. Place in hot oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, lower oven temp to 350 degrees, and let potato crust cool slightly before filling.
Layer cabbage in prepared potato nest. Scatter diced ham on top. Peel the eggs, slice and arrange on top. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve hot. Serves four.
Apple ham salad
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 lb. cooked ham (more if you like)
2 apples, cored and diced
1 stalk celery
1/3 cup minced fennel bulb
1/2 cup raisins
Salt to taste
Combine yogurt & mayonnaise in small bowl; set aside.
Cube ham. Core and dice apples. Slice celery. Mince fennel. Combine in salad bow; add raisins and fold in dressing. Add salt, if needed.
Serves three to four.
Vegetable and ham gratin
2 teaspoons oil
2 cups diced cooked ham
2 cups cooked veggies, like asparagus, green beans or carrots
2/3 cup broth
2/3 cup milk
2 Tablespoons flour
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
For crumb topping:
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon butter, melted
Heat oil in skillet. Peel and dice onion. Sprinkle with salt and cook on medium-low five to seven minutes. Stir in leftover cooked vegetables, and remove from heat.
Make the sauce: combine broth, milk and flour and stir or shake until blended. Add cheese and heat, stirring, until cheese melts and sauce thickens.
Peel and core the apple, and slice.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare casserole dish by spraying with cooking spray. Layer half the ham, half the apple slices, then half the veggie mixture, and cover with half the sauce. Repeat layers.
Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: cooking and writing. She can be reached at www.wordsaremyworld.com.