How many ways can there be to make macaroni and cheese you may ask. I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that new and different ways to prepare it keep popping up. Here’s another one!
While I don’t need 101 ways to make mac and cheese, a new really good version is always a welcome addition. What’s special about this one? First, it includes ham, making this dish a good way to use up leftover ham if you have some; second, the seasonings are a little unusual-mustard and garlic- subtle, but noticeable; and third, it uses Colby cheese instead of the usual cheddar, or Velveeta. Finally the pasta called for in the recipe is farfalle (bow ties), but when I checked my pasta supply, I didn’t have enough so rather that mix two different kinds of pasta, I used campanelle that looks like little rolled up horns. The kind of pasta you use is important because you want a form that will hold onto all the rich cheese sauce, and get nice browned crispy edges when its baked.
The recipe is easy to make and put together, then it bakes for about 25 minutes. It starts out with precooked pasta, ham cut into thin julienne strips, and a cheese sauce made from butter, flour, milk, and cheese plus seasonings. Serve this casserole with a mixed green salad and you’ve got a wonderful meal, sure to satisfy even the pickiest eater.
This could easily become a vegetarian meal by omitting the ham and subbing in a vegetable like broccoli, or edamame, or a combination of veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, and carrot.
HAM AND CHEESE BAKED PASTA
Yield: Makes about 7 cups, serves 4 – 6
- 8 ounces farfalle (bowtie) pasta, or other shape pasta like campanelle
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. black pepper
- 2 cups milk ( I used skim milk)
- 1/2 tsp. prepared mustard, like Gulden’s
- 2 1/2 cups shredded Colby cheese
- 4 oz. cooked ham, cut into thin julienne pieces
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat oven to 350*F. Lightly grease or spray an 8-inch square glass baking dish.
2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
3. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Sauté garlic 30 seconds. Whisk in flour, salt, and pepper. Cook and stir until smooth. Pour in milk, a little at a time, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute, whisking constantly to keep it smooth. Stir in mustard and Colby cheese.
Continue to stir until cheese is melted. Remove from heat and stir in pasta and ham.
4. Pour into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
5. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until bubbly and golden.
Leftovers ( if you’re lucky) may be reheated by adding a little milk to make the sauce creamy again. Reheat in oven, covered with foil to keep from drying out, or reheat in the microwave.
SOURCE: Allrecipes Magazine
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