Easter Leftovers

Another column from my syndicated days.

First things first: This is the voice of your conscience speaking. Easter is over. You can no longer justify eating leftover jelly beans and chocolate eggs by saying, “But it’s a holiday!” Cut that out!

Good. Glad we got that straight.

Now, about those Easter leftovers. Ham is notorious for hanging around forever –– indeed, the venerable cookbook The Joy Of Cooking defines “eternity” as “two people and a ham,” and they’re not too far off. So after Easter, I know that many of you will be giving up valuable refrigerator space to the Leftovers That Would Not Die, not to mention technicolor hard-boiled eggs. But hey, it’s pre-cooked protein, and for a low carber, that’s a beautiful thing! Here are some ideas of how to clear out the fridge without resorting to ham sandwiches:

* Make UnSandwiches. Cut a slice of ham and a slice of your favorite cheese, spread mayonnaise and mustard in between the two, and stuff them in your face. If you’re feeling dainty, you may wrap the whole thing in a big lettuce leaf, first; it’ll add only a trace of carbohydrate.

* Dice up some ham and throw it in your skillet when you scramble eggs. Heck, throw in some sliced mushrooms (3 grams per cup, with 1 gram of fiber, for a usable carb count of 2 grams) and a little minced onion (1 gram per tablespoon, with just a trace of fiber,) and call it supper.

* Melt a little butter in your skillet and add slices of ham. When the first side is browned, flip, spread a little spicy brown mustard on each piece, and top with cheddar or Swiss cheese. Let the cheese melt and serve for a simple family pleaser –– with next-to- no carbs. A simple green salad or some steamed broccoli go well with this.

* Make egg salad. I like mine with green pepper (4 grams in half an average pepper, with 1 gram of fiber, for a usable carb count of 3 grams,) celery (virtually carb-free –– 1 gram per stalk, with 1 gram of fiber), and scallions (1 gram apiece, with a trace of fiber.) My mom liked chopped green olives in her egg salad –– and they’re low carb, too; like the celery, 2 tablespoons of chopped olives has 1 gram of carb, and 1 gram of fiber.

* Peel and chop up an Easter egg or two when you make your favorite tuna salad recipe –– they’re a terrific addition.

* For that matter, why not make ham-and-egg salad? Or even simpler, dump some bagged salad into a big bowl, toss with your favorite low carb dressing, and top with diced ham and sliced eggs. Easiest meal ever.

* Deviled eggs are universally popular, and a fabulous snack for a low carber to have on hand. You’d be hard-pressed to add enough mayonnaise and mustard to bring your deviled eggs up to 1 gram per half! So make some deviled eggs.

Here’s a quick-and-easy one-dish skillet supper that will use up both leftover ham and Easter eggs. Of course, the rest of the year you can buy a chunk of pre-cooked ham and boil up some eggs just for this purpose!

Ham Kedgeree

Kedgeree is traditionally made with rice and smoked fish, but this version with shredded cauliflower “rice” and leftover ham is very tasty –– and a whole lot faster than cooking rice, too.

½ head cauliflower
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 cups ham cubes
4 hard_boiled egg
3 tablespoons minced onion
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Run the cauliflower through the shredding blade of your food processor. Put it in a microwaveable casserole with a lid, add a couple of tablespoons of water, cover, and microwave on high for 6 minutes. When the microwave beeps, uncover your cauliflower right away, or it will continue to cook, and become mushy.

While the cauliflower is cooking, cut your ham in 1/2″ cubes, mince your onion, and peel your eggs and chop them coarsely.

Melt the butter in your large, heavy skillet over low heat, and add the curry powder and onion. Saute them together for 2-3 minutes. Add the ham, eggs, and cream, and stir well –– but gently, so as to preserve some hunks of yolk. Heat through, salt and pepper to taste, stir in the parsley, and serve.

4 servings, each with 340 Calories; 27g Fat; 19g Protein; 6g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 5 grams usable carb. However, if you bought a really low carb ham, your kedgeree will very likely be lower carb than that!

NOTE: This column was written long before frozen caulirice appeared in every grocery store. Feel free to use a bag of the frozen stuff!