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A Spring Dinner with Spiral Ham

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Spring is a joyful bridge from winter to summer, when bright green chives spring from the ground and we anticipate delicious produce to come. Tiny flowers pop on strawberry runners, and pink radishes and baby salad greens can be plucked from the earth. Daydreaming about mild, warm April days inspired me to create a menu that takes full advantage of spring’s post-winter bounty.

My celebration menu begins with a pink and green salad of lettuce, strawberries, radishes, and chives with a slightly sweet clementine dressing. The focal point is a classic spiral ham, but I’ve taken it up a notch by using an uncured cut and coating it with a simple glaze of grainy mustard, herbes de Provence, and apricot preserves.

To accompany the ham, small golden potatoes are cooked just until tender, peeled, quartered, and then tossed with luscious young onions in a velvety cream sauce. Also on the side is rainbow chard tossed with tender shallots, then baked under Parmigiano-coated baguette slices.

To wrap up the meal in true spring fashion, I turn to rhubarb. This tangy, blushing beauty is showcased in an updated version of a blitz torte: layers of tender golden cake topped with billowy meringue and crunchy almonds. My cake originated from the 1940s paperback  The Victory Binding of the American Woman’s Cook Book. Instead of sandwiching with the traditional blitz torte filling of custard or cream and fresh berries, I go with a jamlike strawberry-rhubarb filling.

Menu Timeline

Up to 3 days ahead

  • Prepare the creamed potatoes, reserving some onion greens for garnish, but do not bake. Cover snugly with foil and refrigerate.
  • Make the rhubarb filling for the torte. Cool, cover, and refrigerate.

Up to 2 days ahead

  • Prepare the chard mixture, cover in its baking dish, and refrigerate.
  • Prepare the crisp topping; wrap and refrigerate separately.

Up to 1 day ahead

  • Bake the cake layers; assemble the torte and refrigerate, covered loosely with plastic wrap.
  • Wash the salad greens. Thinly slice the radishes and store in a bowl, immersed in cold water. Cover and refrigerate.

Up to 4 hours ahead

  • Make the clementine dressing and quarter the strawberries for the salad.
  • Place the ham in a roasting pan with the onions, spread the preserves and mustard on top, and sprinkle with the dried herbs. Keep at room temperature until ready to roast.
  • Bring the potatoes to room temperature.
  • Bring the chard and topping to room temperature.

1-1/2 hours ahead

  • Roast the ham.

30 minutes ahead

  • Uncover and bake the potatoes.
  • Place the topping on the chard and bake.

Just before serving

  • Toss the salad.

The Menu


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