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Easter inspiration

Posted: April 13, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 13, 2011 1:55 a.m.

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Enjoy an inspired Easter feast with ham, plus seasonal favorites that will impress your guests.

The savory flavors of roasted ham saltimbocca showcase ham’s versatility in this succulent centerpiece dish.

And when Easter dinner is over, bring some new life to leftovers with meals that are sure to become new family favorites.

In addition to ham sandwiches, dish up a lively asparagus pesto with gnocchi and ham, or a cured ham and asparagus pizza. Asparagus not a favorite? These versatile ham recipes allow you to substitute any cooked veggies spring has to offer.

For recipes, tools to help you prepare and carve the perfect ham, and more ideas to prepare hassle-free leftovers, visit www.PorkBeinspired.com or www.Facebook.com/PorkBeinspired. Follow the National Pork Board on www.Twitter.com/AllAboutPork for a chance to win a free Easter ham.

Roasted ham saltimbocca
Yield: 15 to 20 4-ounce servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: About 2 3/4 hours

1 6- to 8-pound fully cooked bone-in shank end ham, trimmed
1/4 cup chopped fresh sage leaves, divided
 Pepper
4 thin slices prosciutto
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine (for non-alcoholic, substitute an additional cup of chicken broth)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 to 6 pieces
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour dissolved in 1/3 cup cold water
Salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Position rack in lower third of oven.
Place ham flat side down in a large shallow roasting pan and score a diamond pattern about 1/8 inch deep into any fat. Sprinkle all over with two tablespoons sage and season with pepper. Bake until internal temperature reaches 140 degrees, 15 to 18 minutes per pound total cooking time.
After the first hour, baste with pan juices about every 15 minutes.
Remove ham from the oven, transfer to a cutting board, and let rest 15 to 30 minutes.
While ham is resting, increase oven to 400 degrees. Arrange prosciutto on a baking sheet and bake until crisped, about 10 minutes.
Set aside to cool.
Also while ham is resting, drain roast­ing pan, discarding liquid. Place pan on stovetop over medium-high heat.
Add broth and wine; bring to a boil, and cook, scraping up any browned bits in the pan, until liquid is reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about four minutes depending on the size of the pan.
Reduce to a simmer and add butter and remaining two tablespoons sage, stirring until butter melts. Whisk in flour mixture and cook, whisking, until sauce thickens, 30 to 60 seconds. Remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper.
Carve ham and arrange on plates or a platter.
Crumble prosciutto on top.
Serve sauce on the side.
Substitutions: You can use bone-in or boneless ham and substitute dried sage (about 1 1/2 tablespoons) instead
of fresh.

Asparagus pesto with gnocchi and ham
Serves 4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

12 ounces asparagus
3/4 cup basil leaves
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/3 cup walnut pieces
1/4 cup olive oil, or cooking oil
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon garlic, minced (6 cloves)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 16-ounce package potato gnocchi, or 8 ounces rotini (about 4 cups)
2 cups ham, cubed

Snap off and discard woody portions of asparagus.
Cut into one-inch pieces.
Cook asparagus in a small amount of boiling water about five minutes or until tender. Drain and cool.
For pesto, in a food processor or blender, combine asparagus, basil, cheese, walnuts, olive oil, water, garlic and pepper.
Cover and process or blend until nearly smooth, scraping sides occasionally.
Divide pesto into thirds.
Transfer two portions to freezer containers. Freeze for up to three months. Set aside remaining portion.
Prepare gnocchi or rotini according to package directions.
Meanwhile, coat a skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Cook ham cubes in skillet until heated through.
Stir remaining portion of the pesto into ham cubes; heat through.
Drain gnocchi and toss with pesto-ham mixture.

Cured ham and asparagus pizza
Serves 4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
8 ounces asparagus
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 large onion, cut into thin wedges
1 to 2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 teaspoon cornmeal
1 13.8-ounce package refrigerated pizza dough
1 cup bottled roasted garlic Alfredo sauce or original Alfredo sauce
1 1/2 cups cubed ham (8 ounces)
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (6 ounces)

Snap off and discard woody portions of asparagus. Cut into 1-inch pieces.
Melt butter in skillet over medium heat.
Add onion and asparagus. Cook and stir for five to seven minutes or until vegetables are almost tender. Stir in sherry.
Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Set aside.
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Grease a 12- or 13-inch pizza pan. Sprinkle with corn­meal.
Pat pizza dough into pan, rounding corners of dough rectangle to fit pan and building up edges.
If desired, snip edges with kitchen shears.
Bake about seven minutes or until lightly browned. Spread crust with Alfredo sauce. Top with vegetable mixture and ham.
Sprinkle with cheese.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes more or until golden. Let stand five minutes before cutting and serving.

Pork’s perfect partner
Here are three tasty ways to enjoy fresh spring veggies such as asparagus:
*    Sautéed — Add a little zest and crunch to your plate with asparagus sautéed in soy sauce until stalks are easily pierced with fork (3 to 5 minutes). Serve as a side dish over rice.
*    Grilled — Climate permitting, fire up the grill and cook olive oil-tossed spears for 2 minutes for slightly charred asparagus. Kick it up a notch by drizzling with balsamic vinaigrette.
*    Roasted — Try drizzling on olive oil and adding a few pinches of salt and pepper before roasting your favorite veggies. Toss into a 400-degree oven, and roast for roughly 12 to 17 minutes.

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