Author: Milisa Armstrong | Miss in the Kitchen
Leftover ham is a beautiful thing in my opinion. My family is not always wild about leftovers, so I try to come up with creative ways to enjoy them, especially after the holidays. Today I’m sharing a quick and easy Ham and Garlic Cheddar Pasta Bake that the whole family will love.
Growing up I was an extremely picky eater. One of the few things that I would always eat was mac and cheese and I never thought about making it homemade until a few years ago. Mac and cheese is still one of my favorite dishes but I like to fancy it up a bit these days. This casserole is a definite upgrade from the boxed variety without being overly complicated. The addition of Petit Jean Ham makes this dish incredibly delicious and one of my go-to comfort food dishes.
This casserole is perfect for a quick weeknight dinner and you could change it up easily with different add-ins like: broccoli, spinach, roasted red peppers or jalapeños for a spicy kick. You could also change up the cheddar cheese with Colby-jack, Pepper-Jack, Swiss or throw in a bit of smoked cheese. The possibilities are endless you can’t go wrong with the base of pasta and Petit Jean Ham.
HAM AND GARLIC CHEDDAR PASTA BAKE
1 pound medium shells pasta (or your favorite pasta)
3 tablespoons butter, divided use
1 medium- sized onion sliced thin
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 cups milk
4 oz cream cheese, cut into 1 inch cubes
8 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Cook pasta for 4 to 6 minutes and drain. Set aside.
Add 1 tablespoon butter to a skillet and place over medium- high heat. Add onions, sauté for 8-10 minutes or just until onions start to brown. Set aside.
Add 2 tablespoons butter to a saucepan and place over medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook about 1 minute, whisk in flour and salt. Cook for about 2 minutes and whisk in milk and cream cheese. When cream cheese is melted and sauce starts to thicken, stir in shredded cheddar until melted and well combined.
Stir pasta, onions and cheese sauce together and add to a 9" x 13" baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until heated through.
Garnish with fresh thyme and serve immediately.