Baking a ham often waits for a special occasion, but this savory meat is too good to pass over the rest of the year. It's not necessary to buy a whole or even a half ham unless there is a large group being fed. Smaller cuts, such as ham steaks, work well for a family meal without a lot of leftovers. Enjoy dinner even more with a variety of vegetable dishes that complement the ham.
Vegetable Pairings and Casseroles
A number of vegetable casseroles go well with ham. Many cooks make a standard green bean casserole that involves cream of mushroom soup and French-fried onions. A mix of yellow and green squash with sauteed mushrooms and onions is a good vegetable combination with ham. Carrots steamed in a brown sugar and orange juice glaze is delicious with ham, as is wilted spinach with an olive-oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. Try petite English peas that pop in the mouth, or succotash with corn and lima beans. Saute cubes of eggplant with onion and create a savory casserole with bread crumbs, evaporated milk and egg.
Mashed potatoes are a natural with ham. Dress them up by preparing with chicken broth, extra butter and garlic. Load them with bacon bits and shredded cheese. Roasted potato wedges also complement ham when baked in a coating of olive oil, salt, onion powder, garlic powder and herbs of choice. Scalloped or au gratin potato slices work well. Sweet potatoes also match well with ham and can be enjoyed mashed with butter and brown sugar or bake them and serve whole or in peeled rings. Baked acorn squash is a good choice in winter. Couscous is nice when prepared with a bit of the ham broth or consider serving yellow rice accented with s few green peas for a colorful match. Corn puddings and souffles add a nice touch or make confetti corn with diced green and red pepper.
Cold Vegetable Salads
Cold vegetable choices are good for casual meals and for picnics. Pair ham with a sweet carrot, apple and raisin salad, or a chilled broccoli salad made with bacon, sunflower seeds, raisins and shredded cheddar cheese dressed in a bit of mayonnaise. An ambitious but delicious cold vegetable salad consists of french-style green beans, white shoepeg corn, petite green peas, kidney beans, tiny limas, celery, onion and chopped green peppers in a simple sugar and vinegar dressing. A simpler three-bean salad takes less time but is also a good choice. Try a layered salad of sliced red tomatoes, cucumbers and green pepper rings dressed with a simple vinaigrette and freshly cracked black pepper.
To simplify meal preparation, serve vegetables that do not need to be cooked, or only cooked minimally, and offer them with a dip. Vegetable trays filled with broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and green peppers are a good example. These can be served with a ranch dip. Fill bite-sized celery ribs with a creamy cheese mix of cheddar and pimiento or a cream cheese and green olive filling. Stuff mushrooms with a savory bread crumb filling for a cooked finger food or fill halved cherry tomatoes with a mixture of onion, avocado, crumbled bacon and mayonnaise.