It's spring, and it's appealing to turn to fresher fare - a little lighter in approach, food to tickle the taste buds, to make the most of seasonal items.
After hearty holiday meals you may have some good ham to use up in casual dishes; perhaps leftover hard-boiled eggs, too.
Here are two recipes using these ingredients that are easy to make and delectable: The spring salad calls for fresh asparagus, greens and tomatoes with hard-boiled eggs and ham; the ham-potato-leek soup may remind you of the classic vichyssoise, except that this one is served hot, and it has that meaty touch of ham.
The recipes have been worked out by Philip Jones, great-great-grandson of Milo Jones, the founder of Jones Dairy Farm, and president and CEO of the 114-year-old sausage, ham and bacon products company, based in Wisconsin.
Before he joined the company as a manager, Mr. Jones trained in France to become a chef, worked as a chef in the United States and still cooks at home with his wife and three children.
SPRING SALAD SUPREME
8 cups mixed salad greens or torn Bibb lettuce
2 cups julienned cooked ham
16 asparagus spears, trimmed, cooked, chilled
1 pint red or yellow cherry or teardrop tomatoes
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled, quartered
14 cup chopped fresh tarragon
14 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic or raspberry vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
12 teaspoon salt
14 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Arrange greens over four large plates. Arrange ham, asparagus, cherry tomatoes and eggs over greens. Sprinkle tarragon over salads. Combine oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper; mix well. Drizzle dressing over salad.
Makes 4 main dish (or 8 side dish) servings. (Recipe developed by Philip Jones, Jones Dairy Farm)
HAM, POTATO AND LEEK SOUP
2 tablespoons butter
4 large leeks, white parts and light green parts only, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
4 cups chicken broth
2 large russet (baking) potatoes (1 to 114 pounds), peeled, cut into 12-inch pieces
14 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 cups diced cooked ham
12 cup cream or half and half (optional)
Salt to taste
3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, chives or parsley
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add broth, potatoes and pepper; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 25 minutes or until vegetables are very tender.
Use an immersion blender to puree soup or transfer mixture (in three batches) to a food processor; process until smooth. Stir in diced ham and, if desired, cream; season to taste with salt. Reheat before serving; top with dill.
Makes 6 servings, about 8 cups soup.