Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Pasta is creamy, cheesy and so good

I cooked a really, really good recipe Sunday. I didn’t make it with a food column in mind, but it was such a success with my family that I decided I must share!
I adapted a popular Allrecipes dish that features bow tie pasta and ham in a cheesy sauce. I cut back on the butter and cheese and added a little more ham to my recipe. I also used ground mustard instead of prepared mustard because that’s what I usually add with macaroni and cheese, and I used more pasta.
The recipe is very simple. You basically make a white sauce and stir in Colby cheese blend before adding in the pasta and ham.
Once it’s blended, pour it into a baking dish and heat until it’s bubbly.
The dish is similar to macaroni and cheese recipes I make, with the addition of garlic and ham. I also seldom buy Colby cheese, so this is a nice change as well.
I chose a Colby blend (Colby Jack) and used 2 cups instead of the 21⁄2 called for in the original recipe. I did add Parmesan cheese to the top, as in the recipe, but if you don’t have it, it’s not worth the extra cost to buy it.
I loved the creaminess of this pasta! And the flavor is very different from other similar dishes I make, probably because of the garlic sauteed in butter.
I often have leftover ham (this time it was ham cubes from omelets a few days before!) and now I have a great new way to use it.
That being said, this dish would also be excellent without the ham!
Ham and Cheese Pasta
12 ounces bow tie pasta
3 tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄8 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups milk (I use skim)
1⁄2 teaspoon ground mustard
2 cups shredded Colby Jack cheese
1⁄2 to 1 cup cubed ham
1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook pasta according to package directions, around 8 to 10 minutes, or until tender; drain.
Melt butter in large saucepan, over low heat. Add garlic to butter and saute around 30 seconds.
With a whisk, blend in flour, salt, pepper and mustard. Continue stirring until blended. Pour in 1 cup of milk, slowly, and continue to whisk until smooth. Add in remaining cup of milk and stir until incorporated. Bring to a boil for 1 minute. 
Remove from heat and add in cheese, stirring until melted. Stir in pasta and ham.
Pour mixture into baking dish and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if using.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until bubbly.

lisa@wilsontimes.com | 265-7810

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