During school holidays or between-semester visits my mother always had two things waiting for me in the refrigerator: Pimento cheese and ham salad. The spreads were freshly prepared at a favorite local supermarket.
This week I'm sharing the simple Old Fashioned Ham Salad. It comes close to the version I loved in college and it can be whipped up quickly with the help of a food processor.
I use Miracle Whip salad dressing in the salad because I remember the supermarket ham salad was just a tad sweet. I grew up in a Miracle Whip family, but if you're a Duke's or Hellman's family, substitute what you have on hand.
Some ham salad recipes include ingredients such as chopped hard-cooked eggs and celery, but I keep mine simple. Just four ingredients and the last one is a little sweet pickle relish.
I like to serve the ham salad on saltine crackers, but it also makes a great sandwich spread. I'm also including some of my other favorite salad-spread recipes that have appeared in this column.
OLD FASHIONED HAM SALAD SPREAD
1 16-ounce ham steak, bone and fat removed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup Miracle Whip
1 tablespoon mustard
1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Place ham, Miracle Whip and mustard in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse until the ham is very finely diced. Scrape mixture into a medium bowl and fold in the pickle relish and mustard. Season to taste with pepper.
Spread on bread for ham salad sandwiches or serve with crackers.
Makes about 2 1/2 cups of ham salad.
12 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
3/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1 4-ounce jar sliced pimientos, undrained
3-4 dashes Tabasco sauce
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
Shred the cheddar cheese and place in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the mayonnaise and pulse several times. Add the pimientos, Tabasco and garlic salt and pulse until combined. Scrape into a storage container and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Makes 3 1/2 cups.
2 cups cooked and cubed chicken breast meat
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup chopped pecans, optional
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
Season the chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the pecans, if desired, celery, tarragon, mayonnaise and sour cream. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Makes about 3 cups of chicken salad.
EGG, TUNA AND CRAB SALAD
8 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and very finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 6-ounce cans tuna, drained well
1 6-ounce can crabmeat, drained well
3/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons cup sweet pickle relish, optional
Wheat crackers (to serve as an hors d'oeuvre) or whole grain bread, lettuce and tomato slices (to make sandwiches)
Place the eggs in a medium bowl. Season with a little salt and a good grinding of black pepper. Stir in all remaining ingredients (except the crackers or bread) in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve.
Makes about 3 cups.
TARRAGON SHRIMP SALAD
2 pounds large shrimp, steamed, peeled and deveined, and chopped
2 ribs celery, very finely chopped
1/2 cup regular or reduced-fat mayonnaise
1/2 cup regular or reduced-fat sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh tarragon leaves, chopped, or 1 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves, crumbled
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
Crackers, for serving
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and chill until ready to serve. When ready to serve, place a lettuce leaf on each salad plate. Top with a scoop of the shrimp salad and serve with the crackers.
Makes 3-4 cups.