Is there a more classic combination than good ol’ ham and cheese? Put it on a sandwich, or a cracker, or tuck it into a croissant… it’s used again and again because it just works. And it definitely works just as well in this easy and cheesy pasta bake! There’s no canned soup or crushed chips or other common casserole tricks here – just a homemade creamy cheese sauce, tender comforting noodles, and savory diced ham. Simple, but totally satisfying.
While your noodles boil, you can make the sauce, which should take you about the same amount of time. It helps to undercooked your pasta just a bit since it will continue cooking later in the oven.
The sauce is a basic one – you start with a roux to thicken some milk, and then you stir in mozzarella and parmesan until it’s all velvety smooth.
Diced ham, pasta, and chives get stirred into the cheesy sauce and it all heads into the oven to bake. (With more cheese on top, of course.)
You can think of it like a mac and cheese that’s bumped up with ham, but it’s a little creamier and more subtle than the usual cheddar-based macs you might be used to. Instead, it’s all about that ham and cheese working together, and it makes for one very delicious and comforting bake.
Ham and Cheese Pasta Bake
Serves 6; 5 minutes prep, 30 minutes cook time
- 12 oz fusilli pasta
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 3 1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated
- 2 cups diced ham
- 1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped
- Preheat oven to 400°F and grease a 9x13-inch baking dish with nonstick spray.
- Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water 2 minutes less than package directions call for.
- In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Whisk in flour and cook briefly, about 1 minute.
- Slowly add milk and cream, whisking constantly. Increase heat to medium-high and cook until mixture has thickened.
- Stir in nutmeg, pepper, salt, and oregano. Add half of the Mozzarella and Parmesan and stir until melted. Adjust seasoning as needed.
- Add ham, pasta, and chives and stir to combine. Pour into prepared baking dish and top with remaining cheese.
- Bake until bubbly and golden brown, 15-20 minutes. Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes.