Spatula Diaries: 5 uses for leftover holiday ham

The best part about any holiday table, of course, is having leftovers. The Christmas meal has the added benefit of often featuring ham. There’s nothing easier to repurpose than leftover ham, since it can be incorporated into all sorts of breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes. Throw it on top of baked potato, add it to baked cheese grits, make hot ham sliders with tangy mustard, melted cheese and slaw or toss it in a quiche or frittata. Lots of dishes you already make are welcoming to the punchy addition of ham.

Here a 5 of my favorites:

To season beans

If you’re lucky, your ham includes a big, marrow-filled bone, and I’m telling you, there’s nothing better for seasoning your next pot of red beans, white beans, navy beans or black-eyed peas. If the ham is glazed or honey-baked? All the better! The combination of sweet and salty adds a new intensity to a basic pot of beans. That said, watch how you add salt. You’ll likely need to pull back on your usual dose.

Peas, pepper and ham sauce with cream

The traditional pasta that features red bell pepper, green peas and prosciutto in cream sauce is delicious with leftover ham in place of prosciutto. Serve it on any kind of pasta. I think it works especially well with penne, gemelli or plain ol’ spaghetti.

Breakfast muffins

Oh, so easy and delicious on winter mornings. Lightly toast an English muffin, add a slice of ham to one side and a slice of your favorite cheese to the other. Set aside while poaching an egg. When the egg is nearly done, pop the muffin slices into the broiler until the cheese melts and the ham is warm. Remove. Add the egg to one side of muffin and close. Yum.

Sautéed with greens

This is greens season, when local farmers are harvesting fresh mustard, collard and turnip greens, kale, spinach and Swiss chard. Sauté a big batch of your favorite greens with the addition of ham chunks. It won’t add a lot of fat, but it will add nice depth of flavor and nice variation in each bite. What a great start to a healthy new year.

In so many soups

Ham is a natural fit in our beloved regional shrimp and corn soup. When you sauté your Holy Trinity or whatever aromatic vegetables you use, add diced ham. Then continue building the soup. Diced ham is also delicious in wild mushroom soup, potato chowder and vegetable soup as a substitute for beef. If vegetable soup is your jam, toss in that hambone mentioned above at the beginning to flavor your stock.

Happy holidays!

Maggie Heyn Richardson is a regular 225 contributor. Reach her at hungryforlouisiana.com.