Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cheesy Ham & Pasta Bake

Cheesy ham bake

I'm happy to report that after quite a few days of doing just what I wanted to do, I'm feeling like my mojo is slowly coming back. Can anyone tell me why is it that if I totally ignore my blog for a few days, and don't post anything, I come back and check my stats to find I had tons of hits? Then there are days that I think to myself, oh this recipe is gonna draw them in, and it just fizzles??? I can't figure it out, so I just won't.

I'm experimenting with some recipes. This was one of them. Yes it's another casserole recipe. When will it end? When?

This one was spawned when I went in search of ideas to use up the leftover Easter ham. Don't worry, I'm not eating old moldy ham. I cut up all the leftover ham and froze it.

I stumbled across Recipe Girls Cheesy Baked Penne and thought..hmmm..looks good...sounds good....I think the birth of another casserole is about to take place. I combined her idea with my "go-to" casserole sauce from Kayotic Kitchen. I mereged the two together and ta-da, birth of a new casserole.

The original recipe called for peas. (Evan would just pick them out then I'd have peas rolling all over the table). I substituted in broccoli which is much easier to pick out and I changed up the cheeses. I used shallots and onions for this dish, but if I had leeks I would have used them. I love leeks, but I was leekless. Sad really. Along with the casserole obsession I think I have become a little leek obsessed too.

I decided this would be good to pull together on a Sunday night for a quick and easy Monday night dinner, since Monday dinners seem to be simple and sometimes blah in my house. I just don't always have the enthusiasm on a Monday that I have on the weekend.

Cheesy ham bake in bowl

Cheesy Ham & Pasta Bake
1 pound of penne (or other pasta of your choice), cooked al dente
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly chopped
2 ½ cups broccoli florets
2 cups diced ham
1 – 8oz pkg provolone cheese, sliced
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (plus a little more for topping)

For the sauce:
6 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons heaping flour
3 cups milk
4 oz shredded cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
cayenne pepper

Oven to 350. Grease a shallow baking dish.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta al dente. While the pasta is cooking heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet and cook the shallots and onion until they become tender. Add in the broccoli florets, cover and let them steam until slightly tender, but still crunchy.

In a saucepan melt the butter and then add the flour. Cook for a minute and then pour in 2 cups of milk whisking out any lumps. Bring to a boil and add the remaining cup of milk. Whisk in the mustard and salt and simmer for a few more minutes. Finish the sauce with cayenne pepper (if you want too) and the grated cheese. Stir to combine.

In a large bowl, toss cooked pasta with the sauce. Stir in the shallots and onion, broccoli, ham, and cheeses. Pour into the baking dish and sprinkle with a little more cheddar (if you want). Cover with aluminum foil. Bake 25 minutes. Uncover and bake until sauce is bubbling around the edges and the center is hot (about 10 minutes more). Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Cheesy Ham & Pasta Bake

Ham, cheese and pasta all baked until its brown and ...

See Cheesy Ham & Pasta Bake on Key Ingredient.

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