This simple ham and noodle casserole gets saucy flavor with a simple mayonnaise and cheese sauce. A buttery breadcrumb mixture is a perfect finish, making a savory, crispy topping. It's an excellent use of leftover ham. Freeze leftover ham—diced or sliced—in small portions for recipes like this. Wrap it tightly and put it in freezer bags. Freeze it for 1 to 2 months (USDA recommendation).
The recipe calls for frozen lima beans, but feel free to use steamed frozen peas, mixed vegetables, or a blend of peas and carrots. For extra color and flavor, add a tablespoon or two of chopped pimiento. Green onions are a good option for extra flavor as well.
If you like more topping, double the breadcrumbs, and the melted butter. Add a tablespoon or two of Parmesan cheese to the crumbs or season them with a dash of salt and some parsley, if you'd like.
- 1 (10-ounce) package frozen lima beans
- 4 ounces noodles (medium or wide)
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon flour
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup processed American cheese shredded (or mild cheddar cheese)
- 2 cups diced cooked ham
- 1/2 cup soft bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Grease a 1 1/2-quart casserole or shallow baking dish.
- Cook the frozen lima beans following the package directions. Drain and set aside.
- Cook the noodles following the package directions. Drain and set aside.
- In a saucepan over medium-low heat, whisk the mayonnaise and flour together. Gradually add the milk while stirring constantly. Continue cooking until thickened; add the cheese and stir until melted.
- Add the cooked and drained lima beans, noodles, and ham to the sauce and stir gently to blend.
- Pour the noodle and sauce mixture into the prepared casserole dish.
- Combine the breadcrumbs with the melted butter; sprinkle the buttered bread crumbs over the top of the casserole.
- Bake in the preheated oven for about 30 minutes, or until the casserole is bubbling and the topping has browned.
When you have day-old bread, make breadcrumbs. Just tear the bread into smaller pieces—with or without the crust—and process them in the food processor. Put them in a freezer bag and label with the name and date. Seal the bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Try different types of bread. Make crumbs with sourdough bread, croissants, French bread, or everyday whole wheat or white bread.
To make dry toasted breadcrumbs, process the bread pieces just until the crumbs are coarse. Spread the crumbs out on a rimmed baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350 F oven for about 10 to 14 minutes, or until golden brown. Stir them occasionally. For croutons, slice the bread into small cubes and bake until dry and golden brown.