Got ham? I know I do! It seems like no matter how hard I try to find a ham that will feed just the right number of guests at Easter dinner, the ham multiplies. But leftover ham has become a favorite "problem" this Easter. I'm trying to see how many different ways I can serve it without having it seem "left over" at all.
Basic ham sandwich? Check. Salad topper? Check. Baked potato addition? Check. Fast pizza topper? Check. Easy protein for stir-fry? Check. Breakfast casserole? Check. Omelet component? Check.
Today's recipe is a throwback to the pasta salads that were so popular more than 20 years ago. Frankly, I don't know why they ever went out of style. This recipe was originally printed in my 1997 cookbook "Desperation Dinners!" (Workman Publishing). I've trimmed its size; it serves two for dinner or four as a side dish. Close your eyes when you take that first bite and you'll swear you've bitten into a ham and cheese sandwich with mayo, Dijon and tomato on fluffy white bread. Mmmm ... it's amazing.
If you've got ham, or even if you don't, you'll want to whip up this speedy and scrumptious pasta salad.
Alicia Ross is the co-author of "Desperation Dinners!" (Workman, 1997), "Desperation Entertaining!" (Workman, 2002) and "Cheap. Fast. Good!" (Workman, 2006). Contact her at Kitchen Scoop, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106, or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or visit the Kitchen Scoop website at www.kitchenscoop.com.
Suggested menu: Red grape clusters
Italian bread with softened butter
Ham and Cheese Pasta Salad over lettuce leaves
Start to finish: 20 minutes
1 cup dry elbow macaroni
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper, or more to taste
1/2 cup finely chopped cooked ham
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 large celery stalk, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
Lettuce leaves for serving, if desired
Cook pasta according to package directions. Rinse with cold water and drain well; set aside.
Meanwhile, combine the remaining ingredients (except the lettuce leaves) in a medium bowl. Add drained pasta to the cheese mixture and stir well. Serve immediately over lettuce leaves, if desired.
Yield: Serves 2 as entree, 4 as a side dish
Approximate values per 1-cup serving (makes 4 cups): 232 calories, 11 g fat (4 g saturated), 28 mg cholesterol, 10 g protein, 22 g carbohydrates, 2 g dietary fiber, 472 mg sodium