Ham is a traditional dish for many holidays, but unlike turkey, doesn't include a built-in menu of side dishes. A salad, either of fresh mixed greens or served warm, can complement the flavours in ham, and can be a light addition to a potentially heavy meal. Some recipes are more complicated than others, but salads can easily be prepared in varying sizes and with your own twist.
Asian-Style Pineapple Salad
This simple salad can be made with store-bought oil and vinegar dressing, or from scratch with your own pineapple rice wine dressing.
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp water
1 cup fresh pineapple
Combine the first three ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir for about 5 minutes until the dressing is reduced. Remove from heat and put in the refrigerator to cool, along with the pineapple, which should be chopped into 1/4-inch pieces. Allow the pineapple to marinate in the dressing for an hour, then add chopped cucumbers, carrots and red onions to taste. If using store-bought dressing, simply pour the bottle into a bowl and combine with the diced fruits and veggies. Serve over a mixed green salad or iceberg lettuce.
Fruited Green Salad
This salad works best with a bag of mixed greens, baby spinach or arugula. Add:
3 stalks celery, sliced
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
3 chopped pears, apples, or small cans of mandarin oranges
10-20 slivered almonds (caramelised on the hob with sugar if desired)
You can also add fresh-cooked bacon to play off the pork flavours in your main course. If you choose to do so, crumble it into small pieces and do not allow it to overwhelm the fruit flavours.
Cucumber and Onion Salad
A favourite for chefs with limited time, this cold salad is a variation on the usual ham and pickle combo. Thinly slice 2 cucumbers and a small white onion, then combine in a large bowl with a teaspoon each of vinegar, oil, salt and sugar. Add sour cream; 3/4 cup works well for a two-cucumber salad but you can adjust to taste. You can also use plain, nonfat yoghurt as a healthier alternative. Top with dill from the spice rack and a freshly pressed glove of garlic (optional).
Traditional Potato Salad
This recipe serves four, but can easily be adjusted for much larger events. It can also be served warm or cold. Add a few tablespoons of spicy Dijon mustard for German-style potato salad.
2 medium potatoes
3/4 cup light mayonnaise
1/4 cup milk
1/2 package powdered ranch dressing
1/2 cup mixed bell pepper and cucumber, chopped
1/4 cup chives
1 slice ham from main course, shredded
Clean and peel potatoes, then chop into cubes and boil with a pinch of salt for about 20 minutes. Check often to make sure they do not become mushy. Drain and place on paper towels.
Separately, whisk mayo, milk and ranch together in a large serving bowl. Add chopped veggies, then gradually mix in potatoes and shredded ham.