This is a great way to use leftover ham, and it's a delicious combination of flavors. The Cheddar cheese sauce is mixed with cooked penne, diced ham, peas, and seasonings to make a tasty casserole, baked to perfection with a buttery crumb topping. Serve this flavorful pasta casserole with a tossed salad for a complete and satisfying meal.
- 3 cups (12 ounces) penne pasta
- 1 1/2 to 2 cups frozen peas
- 6 tablespoons butter (divided)
- 3 green onions (thinly sliced)
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley (chopped)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic (finely chopped)
- 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 cups milk
- 2 cups ham (diced)
- 2 1/2 cups Cheddar cheese (about 12 ounces, divided)
- 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs*
- Spray a 3-quart baking dish with nonstick cooking spray or lightly grease with butter. Heat the oven to 350 F.
- In a large saucepan, cook penne pasta in boiling salted water following package directions. Drain in a colander and rinse with hot water.
- In a saucepan or saute pan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter. Add the green onions, parsley, and garlic; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
- Stir in the milk and cook, stirring, until thickened. Add the ham and 2 cups of the shredded cheese and cook, stirring, until cheese is melted and the sauce is hot and bubbly.
- Add the drained pasta and peas to the sauce, mixing well and heating through.
- Spoon into the baking dish. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup of Cheddar cheese.
- Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and toss with the the bread crumbs. Sprinkle over the shredded cheese layer.
- Bake for about 30 minutes, until crumbs, are browned and the casserole is hot and bubbly.
Serves 6 to 8.
Note: To cook the peas with the pasta, add the frozen peas to the pasta during the last 2 minutes of cooking time and add 2 minutes to the cooking time. Drain the pasta and peas together and rinse with hot water.
*For bread crumbs, tear a few slices of bread and put in the food processor; pulse until you have soft crumbs. Using day-old bread, croissants, or bulkie rolls, make crumbs and freeze them for casserole toppings.