Easter is a great holiday for leftovers — ham keeps well in the fridge, freezes well and adds a ton of flavour to dishes from pastas to salads to quiche.
A handful does well in a batch of mac and cheese, dresses up grilled cheese and lays the foundation for a fantastic soup.
But a glut of hard-boiled eggs left over from the egg hunt are more of a challenge. Because there are only so many egg salad sandwiches one can eat, here are a half dozen new ways to transform your Easter surplus.
Make a quiche – or a tart – or a frittata
All of the above are great ways to use up all kinds of leftovers — bits of ham, cooked veggies, wilting greens. Cover it with a rich egg custard and cheese and bake it in a pastry shell, or skip the pastry and pour eggs whisked with milk over your choice of ingredients and slide it into the oven to transform them into a whole new meal.
Ham and mushroom tart
(Inspired by my sister and Bon Appétit, May 1994)
- 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup chilled butter, cut into pieces
- 1/4 cup cold water
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2-4 Tbsp. butter
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1/2 lb cremini, brown or button mushrooms, thinly sliced
- 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary and/or thyme
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp. Cognac, sherry or brandy (optional)
- 1 cup grated Gruyère, aged Cor white cheddar
- 3/4 cup heavy (whipping) cream
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 large egg
To make the crust, in a bowl (or the bowl of a food processor) combine the flour and salt, then pulse or blend in the butter until almost combined. The mixture should resemble coarse meal. Add the water and stir until the dough comes together. Let it sit on the counter for 20 minutes to rest – or stick it in the fridge if it’s warm.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a 10-12-inch circle – just bigger than a nine or 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Fit it into the pan and fold the edges over inward, making a double-thick crust. Trim to about 1/8-inch above the edge of the pan. (I used a larger pan and so didn’t do this – just trimmed it to within 1/8 inch without folding it over.) Preheat oven to 375°F and chill the crust for 20-30 minutes.
To make the filling, heat the oil and butter in a heavy skillet set over medium-high heat. Saute the onion and mushrooms until soft; add the rosemary, season with salt and pepper and continue cooking until all the liquid has cooked off and the mushrooms are starting to turn golden. If you like, add a shot of Cognac, sherry or brandy and cook until it evaporates.
Line the crust with foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Sprinkle half the cheese over the bottom of the crust. Cover with the mushroom mixture. Whisk together the cream, yolks and egg – add a few extra snippets of thyme if you like – and pour the custard over the mushrooms. Scatter with the remaining cheese.
Bake for 30 minutes, until set and golden. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.
Green eggs and ham salad
Hardy kale salads make a perfect vehicle for chopped roast ham and hard-boiled eggs – or soft boil or poach an egg to lightly break over top. This kale Caesar salad is dressed with a garlicky, lemony, peppery dressing and tossed with strips of ham, chunks of egg, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. It travels well and makes a pretty fantastic dinner.
- 1 small bunch kale
- 1 cup chopped or sliced roasted ham
- a few hard-boiled eggs, roughly chopped
- shaved Parmesan, aged cheddar or Gouda
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise (or more to taste)
- 1 garlic clove, finely crushed
- juice of half a lemon (about 1 1/2 Tbsp.)
- lots of freshly ground black pepper
Put the kale and ham in a bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients and drizzle overtop. Toss to coat. If you like, transfer it to a platter. Scatter with eggs and cheese and serve. Serves four to six.
Make a pot of soup
A leftover hambone makes some of the most flavourful soup imaginable. Throw the ham stock into a slow cooker (unless it’s there already) and add chopped carrot and celery, dried white or black beans or lentils, dry pearled or pot barley and tomatoes (fresh or canned). Or try white beans, chopped kale or spinach and fresh rosemary or thyme. Turn it on low for six to eight hours, then serve with crusty bread – whatever you throw in the pot, you can’t get a more comforting (or inexpensive) meal.
Devil some eggs
Who doesn’t love devilled eggs? It’s the perfect way to use up extra hard boiled eggs – simply cut them in half lengthwise, remove the yolks and mash them with a blob of mayo, squirt of grainy mustard, and any number of ingredients you think would go well with eggs – curry paste, sautéed spinach, chopped smoked salmon or ham, crab or shrimp – anything goes! Spoon the mixture back into the egg halves and you have a party offering people tend to go nuts for.
- 6 large eggs
- 1/4 cup finely chopped smoked salmon, ham or bacon
- 1 green onion, finely chopped
- 1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
- 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise
- 1 tsp. grainy mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
Place the eggs in a medium saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Cover, remove from heat and let stand two minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water until cool. Peel and slice in half lengthwise and remove the yolks.
In a medium bowl mash the yolks with the remaining ingredients. Stuff egg white halves with filling and serve immediately. Makes 12.
Pasta with cheesy peas
Ham and eggs go really well in pasta – this simple toss of noodles, peas and cheese is benefited by a handful of chopped ham and/or a fried egg plopped on top. Or whisk together eggs and Parmesan and toss with the hot pasta and a bit of reserved starchy pasta water – it will cook up like carbonara, the ham mimicking the traditional bacon.
- pasta for three to four people
- four big handfuls of fresh or frozen peas
- a knob of butter
- a squeeze of lemon juice
- chopped bits of leftover ham
- lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- freshly ground black pepper
Bring a big pot of water to a boil and add the pasta; cook until al dente, adding the peas for the last 4 minutes of cooking time. Before you drain it, scoop out some of the water with a measuring cup.
Drain the pasta and peas and put it back in the pan – add a knob of butter, a squeeze of lemon, some chopped ham and lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, and enough of the pasta water to make a saucy consistency. Serves three to four.
Spicy pickled eggs with chiles
Who makes pickled eggs anymore? If you find yourself with a glut of hard-boiled eggs, peel them and pack them in a jar with a sweet-tart brine for a batch of homemade pickled eggs you can set out on your own bar.
- 8 hard-boiled eggs
- 2 cups white or apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup sugar
- pickling spice
- 2-3 fresh jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
After boiling your eggs (cover with water, bring to a boil for two minutes, then remove from the heat, cover and let sit for 10 minutes) cool them completely under cool running water and peel. Place in a large jar or two.
In a medium saucepan, bring the vinegar and sugar to a simmer. Put a small spoonful of pickling spice in each jar along with the jalapeno peppers and pour the hot brine over top. Cool, seal and refrigerate for a few days if you can before eating them. Store for up to a month.