I have a memory from my childhood of sitting at my grandparents’ kitchen table in Benton Harbor, Michigan, and eating a ham salad sandwich for lunch. Here’s me and my grandparents, Dorothy and Dean, from 1981, when I was 2 years old:
I was older when I ate that ham salad sandwich that I so vividly remember, but that’s the woman that made it. My grandma Dorothy used to make all sorts of mayo-based luncheon salads: egg salad, chicken salad, ham salad, shrimp salad. She probably made tuna salad too, but I don’t exactly remember, and she’s no longer with us for me to ask. (My mom would know, and I bet she contributes a comment below when she reads this!)
The reason I bring this up is because I no longer see ham salad around much anymore. Maybe it’s more popular in other parts in the country, but not in southern California. I don’t see it on menus, and I don’t see it in deli cases at fancy supermarkets, where pre-made chicken, egg, and tuna salads can all be found pretty easily.
What happened to ham salad? I love ham. It’s delicious, and very lean, and did I mention delicious?
Let’s bring back ham salad! And I have the perfect recipe for the job. It’s light and flavorful, and without a single drop of mayonnaise – and you can enjoy a very generous portion for only 190 calories. Yup – 190 calories!
My recipe was inspired by a recipe I saw in this cookbook, which was published decades ago:
Here’s the funny thing: I don’t own this cookbook, and I don’t remember which of my friends does. I was going through old photos, and I took this photo on August 13, 2011, along with a photo of a recipe on the inside, and I no longer remember where I was or who let me look at their cookbook. So – if you’re one of my Los Angeles-area friends and this book is sitting on your shelf, speak up!
Here’s my recipe for Fruity Curried Ham Salad.
Let’s start with the ham. You need 6 ounces of ham steak. You can have someone at the service deli slice a ham steak for you, or, you can find ham steak pre-packaged in the meat cases, near the breakfast sausage and bacon. Chop it into pieces.
It’s up to you how big or small you make the pieces. I like bigger pieces, because it feels more luxurious and rustic, but smaller pieces might work better if you plan on using this in sandwiches or wraps.
The fruity part of this recipe comes from two different kinds of fresh fruit: peaches and grapes. You need 2 peaches, chopped into pieces. I tried to make them roughly the same size as the ham chunks, so it’s all uniform.
You also need 1 cup of grapes, halved. Use whatever tastes the best. The red ones were way sweeter than the green ones when I was shopping, so I went red.
(You should definitely bookmark this recipe for later in the summer, when both peaches and grapes are in season. This dish will end up being a lot cheaper than it is right now!)
The ham, grapes, and peaches get added to a big mixing bowl, and you’re going to add two more items:
- 1/2 cup of walnuts, chopped
- a few big handfuls of fresh spinach (about 4 cups), cut into thin ribbons. The fancy word for this is ‘chiffonade.’ This bulks up the salad, and adds lots of nutrients.
The dressing is simple:
- 6 ounces nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
- 2 tablespoons coconut water. This thins the dressing out.
They sell yogurt in 6 ounce containers, so I was able to, very carefully, add the other two ingredients to that container, and just stir it up in there.
Then add the dressing to the other ingredients, and you’re done!
Ham salad has returned!
So many flavors and textures: sweetness from the fruit, spice from the dressing, saltiness from the ham, crunch from the walnuts.
It’s very decadent, although with yogurt instead of mayonnaise, it’s very low calorie!
This recipe makes four big servings. Each serving has 190 calories, 8 grams of fat, 17 grams of carbs, and 13 grams of protein.
Are you with me? Let’s bring ham salad back!
Keep it up, David!
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