Monday, April 5, 2010

What to Do with All That Ham

If you are like most people, you probably ate some ham with your Easter celebration dinner. If you did, chances are you have some leftover ham. We did and we do. I am so happy

I love cooking one meal and then using part of that meal to make another meal. It always feels like cheating a bit because part of the work is already done. Yesterday when I was putting away the part of our ham that wasn't devoured, my mind was already going...split pea soup, navy bean soup, quiche, pocket sandwich thingys or something else.

By putting ham away, I mean that I cut it all off the bone, diced it up a bit and put it into a ziploc bag. It will sit in the fridge for a couple of days until I use it. I'll probably get more than one meal from it all.

Last night when I sat down to plan our meals for the week, I decided to go with something else...Linguine with Ham and Mushrooms. (Actually, I should just call it Linguine with Ham and Veggies because I am the only mushroom lover here and I never but them in.) This is a favorite around here and I rarely make it because, well, we don't have ham that much.

Looking at what I've put into the bag in our fridge, I think I'll double the recipe and freeze one portion for another meal. Oh my, it'll be like cheating twice from that one ham. Doing some planning pays off big dividends in meal planning!

So, just in case you are like most people and you've got some extra ham around this week, here's the recipe for Linguine with Ham and Veggies.

Linguine with Ham and Veggies

1 lb package of linguine or some sort of pasta, we use whatever we've got on hand
2 T butter or oil
2 T flour
1/2 t salt
1 12 oz can of evaporated milk, I've used regular milk before, you've just got to work with the amounts a bit
1 1/3 c water
chicken bouillon for the water, 1 cube
4 c ham
1/2 c Romano or Parmesan cheese
veggies - any of the following, mix them up if you like:
2 sliced green peppers
a few huge handfuls of spinach
fresh or canned mushrooms
fresh or frozen peas

Decide on your veggies. If you are using fresh ones, put a bit of oil in a sauce pan and saute the veggies until they are just tender. Start cooking your pasta. Dump the veggies in a bowl and set aside. Melt the butter in the veggie pan, add the flour and salt. Stir until thick and add milk, water and chicken bouillon. Cook this over medium heat until it starts to thicken. You'll need to stir while it is cooking so it doesn't scorch.

At this point, you've made the sauce and have a decision to make. If you're good with the thickness of the sauce, move on. If you like a thicker sauce, mix a couple of tablespoons of cold water and an equal amount of flour in a cup until it is smooth. Add this to the pot and stir for a bit. It should make your sauce thicker.

Somewhere in here, your pasta should be done. Drain it and set aside.

Add the veggies and ham to the pot and cook until all is warm. You can either add the cheese to the sauce now or wait and sprinkle it over the top of your final product. It like it in the sauce and on top. I like cheese.

If you are going to freeze this - stop now! Let it cool and put it into a gallon ziploc bag. Ziploc bags are great for freezing sauces because they lay flat and you can fit LOTS in your freezer. Don't freeze the pasta - cooked and thawed pasta should not be eaten by anyone in my opinion. Ugh. Just don't make the pasta until the day you want to eat the sauce.

You can serve this two ways - either mix the pasta and sauce together in a pot or serve the sauce over your plated pasta like spaghetti.

There aren't a great deal of herbs or spices in this dish. I haven't found any that I just love in it. However, I usually mince a few cloves garlic and saute it with the veggies. Garlic tastes great in pretty much everything and I am in LOVE with the smell of sauteing garlic. Pure bliss! Some white wine added to the sauce is also really delicious.

Again, you get the idea. As usual, I haven't ever made this dish the same way twice. That's part of the fun of cooking!

How are you "hamming" it up with your leftover?


  1. Ham bone soup. Love when the bag comes with all the beans in it for ya. We make too much and freeze the rest.

    We also enjoy ham and potatoes. One dish. Lots of cheese.

  2. I have two hammy favorites:
    1. Ham and scalloped potatoes - made in the micro. 1 can of cream/chicken soup, 1 can milk, a pile of sliced potatoes, throw in some dehydrated onions, and paprika on top. 15 minutes, stir; and 15 more minutes til done.
    ** I do have to stir the milk and soup together first. Plus I have this cool old "Feemster" slicer, probably cost $2.98 at Shopko a zillion years ago. It slices potatoes and cabbage.
    The other thing I like to do with ham is grind it in an old fashioned meat grinder. I actually LIKE ham salad sandwiches. With dill pickles. This feels something like a confessional...

  3. I can't believe you have leftovers.

  4. I'd love to make ham and potatoes, but we've got 2 potato haters. I still make thing with potatoes and they eat it, but a whole dish might put them over the edge. We're working on them.

    Mike - the only reason there was some left is that I didn't put it all out. I'm getting smarter in my old age. :)