7 Easy Recipes Using Ham That You Can Make for Weekday Meals

Figuring out what to cook can often be the day’s most daunting task. Most people have a few go-tos that they can pull off in their sleep using chicken breast or ground beef, but even the most inventive techniques can only do so much for these proteins. Sooner or later, you’re going to get sick of the same meals. Don’t fret, because you can easily wake up your cooking without making it any more complicated. All you have to do is head to the deli aisle to pick up some ham.

Though it may not be as popular as bacon, ham tastes just as good while keeping your calorie and fat consumption more reasonable. The flavor comes from a process that includes curing and smoking. Passionate cooks like to do it at home, but it’s a pretty big project. Most of the versions you’ll find at the store taste nearly the same, so you may as well take a little bit of assistance.

Because it’s a fully cooked product, you can pull off a full meal without many ingredients or much time. You can use ham for a lot more than simple sandwiches, too. We’ve rounded up seven great recipes that show you how to use the cured pork in creative ways no matter what meal you’re making. It might be time for bacon to take a backseat.

1. Sweet Potato and Ham Hash

sweet potato hash, eggs

Sweet potato and ham hash | iStock.com

One-pot meals are a standard for dinner, though they’re a lot less common earlier in the day. It seems a shame to wash so many dishes before you’ve finished your coffee, so try this easy sweet potato hash from Taste of Home to make your morning a little easier. Start by cooking the sweet potatoes, add some peppers and onions, then stir in some ham and garlic. Once you’re ready to add the eggs, just make a little clearing for each one in the potato mixture. Add the eggs, cover the skillet, and cook just until the whites are set.

You can also try this dish with different kinds of spuds and veggies as well. Stick with waxy potatoes since they’ll hold their shape the best. Though this dish is great anytime, it’s a great choice for entertaining.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cubed, peeled sweet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small, sweet red pepper, chopped
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 red chile, seeded, and finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups cubed fully cooked ham
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • ¼ cup shredded white cheddar cheese

Directions: In a large skillet, heat butter and oil over medium heat. Cook sweet potatoes until crisp-tender. Add onion, red pepper, chile, and green onions and cook until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes longer. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in ham and season with salt and pepper.

Using a spoon, make four wells in the potato and vegetable mixture. Add an egg to each well then sprinkle top with cheese. Cover and cook 4 to 5 minutes, or until whites are set and yolks are still a bit runny. Serve.

2. Croque Madame

Croque madame

Croque madame | iStock.com

This classic French sandwich has been reworked in countless ways, and each new concoction grows a little more complicated than the last. But this sandwich doesn’t have to be complicated to taste good. In fact, the simplest approach might be the most delicious. Try this basic version from The New York Times, which was adapted from Amanda Hesser’s recipe.

The most involved part of this dish is making the béchamel, but it’s really not hard. Just melt the butter, add the flour, and let it bubble for about a minute. This little bit of cooking before adding the liquid eliminates the raw flour taste, so don’t skip it. Next, gradually whisk in the milk. Keep stirring the sauce as it cooks until it thickens, then you’re good to go.

Ingredients:

  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • ⅔ cup milk
  • Salt
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 4 (⅓-inch-thick) slices country bread
  • 4 thin ham slices
  • 2 thin slices of Gruyère cheese
  • 2 eggs

Directions: Preheat a two-sided electric griddle on medium-high for 20 minutes, or preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and preheat a cast-iron skillet on the stove for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan set over medium heat. When bubbles subside, add flour and cook, whisking vigorously, for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in milk until smooth. Bring to a boil, and cook until thickened. Remove from heat and season with salt and nutmeg.

Spread two slices of bread generously with sauce. Lay two slices of ham on top of each, then add cheese. Ham and cheese should slightly overlap the edges of the bread. Top each with another bread slice.

In a small saucepan, melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter. Brush sandwiches on both sides with melted butter, making sure to coat completely. If using a griddle, place cheese-side down, close griddle, and cook until bread is toasted and cheese is bubbling. If using a skillet, place sandwiches cheese-side down and cook until well browned, then turn and brown again. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until heated through and bubbling. Meanwhile, fry eggs in a skillet with a bit of butter. Slide an egg onto each sandwich and serve at once.

3. Bow-Ties with Peas and Ham

farfalle, pasta, peas, ham

Bow-ties with peas and ham | iStock.com

Prosciutto and pancetta might be the most common meats in pasta dishes, but ham can easily fill the same role. Try it out in this recipe from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food. It combines the salty ham with a creamy sauce and sweet peas for a meal that’s as tasty as it is easy. Though this recipe calls for bow-ties, any short cut of pasta will work.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound bow-tie pasta
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 10 ounces frozen peas
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • ½ pound cooked ham
  • Grated Parmesan cheese

Directions: Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, according to package directions. Drain pasta and return to pot.

Meanwhile, heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add peas and half-and-half, then season with salt and pepper. Simmer until thickened.

Cut ham into strips and add to sauce. Cook just to heat through, 1 to 2 minutes. Toss sauce with pasta. Serve with Parmesan.

4. Ham Steak with Chili Gravy and Cheesy Polenta

ham steak, chile

Ham steak | iStock.com

Turn the cured pork into the star of the show with Rachael Ray’s ham steak with polenta. To keep things fast, this recipe uses quick-cooking polenta, which comes out tender in just a few minutes. Add a dash of hot sauce and a sprinkle of cheddar make the creamy cornmeal taste just like southern grits, which make a great base for the meat and veggies. If you’re feeling extra hungry, fry a few eggs to top off the dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable, peanut, or canola oil, divided
  • ½ pound ham steak
  • ¼ small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • ¼ bell pepper, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • ½ cup beef stock
  • ½ cup milk
  • ⅓ cup quick-cooking polenta
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ teaspoon hot sauce
  • ½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Directions: Heat ½ tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook ham steak 3 minutes on each side to brown and heat through. Remove from pan, cover, and keep warm.

Add remaining oil to the pan along with onion, garlic, and pepper. Season with salt and pepper and cook 4 to 5 minutes, or until softened. Stir in tomato paste and chili powder. Cook for 1 minute. Stir in stock and simmer for a few minutes to reduce.

Meanwhile, bring milk and ½ cup water to a boil in a small pot. Add polenta and whisk 2 to 3 minutes, or until thickened. Stir in butter, hot sauce, and cheese. Remove from heat. Serve ham steak with polenta and chili gravy.

5. Ham and Barley Salad

barley salad

Ham and barley salad | iStock.com

Grain salads are the darlings of the health-food world, and, while plenty nutritious, they’re often lacking in flavor. Rescue the lunchtime staple from its bland reputation by making Whole Foods Market’s rendition with ham, cabbage, and mustard. It has everything you need for a full meal, and it’s great warm, room temperature, or cold, making it the perfect meal to pack for lunch.

Quick-cooking barley speeds up the prep time for this recipe, but it isn’t necessary. Regular barley, farro, or any of your other favorite whole grains will work equally as well. Just make sure to adjust the cooking time.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons canola oil
  • Pinch of brown sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 cups water
  • 1½ cups quick-cooking barley
  • 3 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 12 ounces ham, julienned

Directions: Combine mustard, shallots, vinegar, oil, brown sugar, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl, and whisk to combine. Set aside.

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in barley, reduce heat, and cover. Simmer 10 to 12 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let rest for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, combine cabbage, onions, carrots, and ham in a large bowl and lightly toss to combine. Add barley, and toss again. Add vinaigrette and toss one more time. Serve immediately, or chill for later.

6. Ham and Black-Eyed Pea Soup with Collard Greens

ham and bean soup, black eyed peas

Soup | iStock.com

Soup is often an all-day project, relying on time to build flavor and cook sturdy ingredients. You can shorten the process significantly by using ham and some canned black-eyed peas with Epicurious’s simple soup. It also features collard greens, which are ideal for soups because they cook right in the broth to ensure every bite tastes great. Kale and turnip greens are also good choices.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 (4-ounce) piece cooked ham, cut into ¼-inch dice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ pound collard greens, stemmed, and finely chopped
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 (16-ounce) can black-eyed peas
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar

Directions: In a 3-quart saucepan cook onion, garlic, and ham in olive oil set over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is lightly golden. Add collards, broth, and water. Simmer until collards are tender, about 20 minutes.

Rinse and drain black-eyed peas. In a bowl, mash half of peas with a fork, then stir peas into the soup. Simmer for 5 minutes, then season with salt, pepper, and vinegar. Serve.

7. Ham, Apple, and Cheddar Pizzas

apple pizza

Ham, apple, and cheddar pizza | iStock.com

If you’re an adventurous eater, this apple and ham pizza from Real Simple is a great treat. It’s sweet, salty, cheesy, and a little bit crispy. You can also customize this pie with different cheese and fruits. Try pear with Gruyère or fig with blue cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound pizza dough, at room temperature
  • Cornmeal
  • ¼ cup honey mustard
  • 8 ounces white cheddar cheese, grated
  • ¼ pound thinly sliced ham
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and black pepper

Directions: Preheat oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Shape dough into four rounds and place on two cornmeal-dusted baking sheets. Evenly divide mustard, cheddar, ham, and apple among dough rounds. Season each with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Bake until crust is golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Slice and serve.