Ham Salad Recipe-More of a Guideline

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn Fridays I clean out the refrigerator. I take stock of what needs used up and what to share with the girls (the chickens). This week I found the end of the Easter ham, some kinda limp celery, half of a red onion, a chunk of sharp cheddar that swore it was going to start growing if it didn’t get eaten,  and a few kosher dill gherkins swimming in a jar.

Ham Salad it is!

Ham salad is a retro food. I remember it served at all picnic functions when I was a child. Grandma Olive served it out of the plaid enameled tin picnic basket on the evenings we went to tent meetings. In the 50’s and 60’s it was “fast food”.

I refer to this recipe as a guideline, because ham salad at our house is ephemeral and always changing according to what is available. You can put anything in ham salad that you would put on a regular ham sandwich.


  • ham that has been ground or finely chopped ( you can still buy ground ham in Ohio, I use the Kitchenaid grinder attachment or the food processor for leftover ham)
  • mayonnaise or your preferred salad dressing.  We are firmly in the homemade or the Helman’s/Best Foods camp.
  • chopped onion, today I had half of a red onion-a family favorite is green onions-tops and bottoms
  • chopped pickles or relish (sweet or dill) or any pickled vegetable
  • whole grain mustard-any kind of mustard will do
  • green pepper-more likely to have that around in full summer
  • grated cheese, always optional
  • chopped olives
  • chopped celery, radishes, or a little grated carrot (careful, carrots add a lot of sweet)
  • a splash of vinegar or pickle juice, I used some tasty Raspberry vinegar-because it is SPRING!
  • fresh ground pepper, I do not add salt, as most of the items going into this spread are pretty salty-so hold that pinch of salt until you taste the finished productOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So first you chop everything with a fine hand, if left too chunky it is difficult to keep in the sandwich.  Throw it all in a bowl, I chose an 8 cup Rubbermaid Glass Storage Bowl, because I was thinking ahead to storage.  Be careful with the mayonnaise, don’t go over board right away or you will end up with slimy paste-not salad.  You can always add more. I buck the old time recipes by trying to use equal amounts of chopped veggies and ham. The ham salad is usually better after sitting in the refrigerator for a few hours. We eat ham salad on grainy bread, in Pitas or over greens. I once had a grilled ham salad sandwich at a country diner-way good-but way fatty! Some zesty spring greens or sprouts are a great topping. Oh goodness, do not forget thick slices of ripe tomato in season!  I know that ham, cheese and mayonnaise are not on most folks “good for you” list, so I try to balance that aspect with lots of veggies, greens and grainy breads.

Another throwback to the 1960’s-my mother ground bologna, sweet pickles and American cheese together for a poor man’s version of ham salad, using fake mayo-calling it “Sandwich Spread”. How did I ever make it to my 60’s without high blood pressure, heart failure or [whohit]Ham Salad[/whohit]diabetes?!?!

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