I think I need to plan a picnic. I can’t stop thinking about picnic foods.
This is surprising because I’m not much of a picnic person. All that mayo sitting out for hours in 80 degree weather is enough to turn a person off. But for some reason I’m ready to set my food safety phobias aside for the sake of nice weather and a meal outside.
One food from my picnic memory book is ham salad. We always had it growing up, and I really liked the way my mom would make it. She ground up the ham so it was more of a spread than other versions I’ve seen.
Despite being a fan, I have never made ham salad myself. But with some ham leftover from Easter I thought it was a good time to try and put my stamp on it.
I decided to use what I now call my classic combo for former mayo-only based salads – plain Greek yogurt, a little mayo and spicy brown or Dijon mustard. I’ve had success with coleslaw, potato salad and chicken salad, and I actually like it a lot more than the all mayo versions.
I’d suggest using full fat Greek yogurt. I hear over and over again that people don’t like Greek yogurt, and for the life of me I haven’t been able to figure out why. Then I bought some fat free Greek yogurt by one of the popular brands. (The ones famous for their flavored, diet yogurt who decided to do Greek because it’s cool.)
I now know why people say they don’t like Greek yogurt. I’m not exaggerating when I say it was one of the worst things I have tasted. I threw it out.
So try a full fat version (Greek Gods and Fage are my favorites). I promise it will change your life, at least as far as yogurt is concerned. And because it is yogurt the way it was meant to be, you’ll need much less of it to fill you up, and for flavor and fat in your recipes.
Back to the ham salad. I keep a small amount of mayo in the recipe because it cuts the sour flavor of the yogurt just enough so that it’s not overpowering. I also added some olives, and finished it off with just a bit of smoked hot paprika.
Crackers or a crusty baguette make the best form of transport. And be careful, it might put you in the mood for a picnic. That’s fine by me. I could use the company!
Smoky Ham Salad with Olives
Makes: About 3 cups
2 ½ cups cooked ham, finely chopped
1 large rib celery, chopped
¼ cup green olives, diced
½ tbsp grated onion
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp spicy brown mustard
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp smoked hot paprika
In a bowl, combine the ham, celery, olives and onion. Set aside.
In a separate bowl stir together the yogurt, mayo, brown mustard, pepper and paprika. Pour the yogurt mixture over the ham. Stir to mix all ingredients. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.
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Lori Rice is a freelance writer, recipe developer, food photographer and nutritional scientist. Fake Food Free is a creative outlet that allows her to connect with people from around the world who share a love of travel, food culture and cooking.