Happy Family Extra Cold–American Ham Chopped Salad

by R.B. Quinn and Min Merrell
ham chopped salad

Classic American-style ham chopped salad.

I wondered what my daughter Elsa and I would crave once home from our recent school trip through China. Over there we shied away from the raw salads because of the “don’t drink the water” issue.  Though I sneaked a few bites of some delicious pickle-y, cabbagy greens and couldn’t resist the sliced cucumber.  Never got sick either.

So, yes, good old ice-cold iceberg salad sounded really good back in Nashville. No seaweed or cabbage in it please, at least for a little while. Plus, the ice-cold part is essential after a week of warmish beer and cokes. I’ve got a big lightweight cheap enamel over steel bowl and platter that when chilled keep salads extra cold. Boy, they’re handy.

Here’s an even better tip.  A sales person for Le Creuset once told me that you can keep a salad well-chilled by serving it in one of their heavy enamel-coated cast iron pots. It never occurred to me that those pots hold cold as well as heat. Of course, they do (slap your forehead now)!  Chill the salad in that and it will keep cold for a good long while. Fantastic for a hot summer day.

At home, Elsa and I piled up every regular American ingredient we could think of on our cold platter and it really hit the spot. Lots of crunch and chew. Not much thinking required. Iceberg, celery,  green bell pepper, red onion, and radishes topped with chunks of smoky ham, cheddar, cherry tomatoes, and chopped hard-cooked egg.

Creamy dressings work better than vinaigrette in this application. Stir up the buttermilk ranch and a quick Thousand Island. The directions are below. A fresh sleeve of saltine crackers really makes a difference.

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