What is better than a big pan of Mac & Cheese? I love this recipe because it also has peas and ham in it so you get a little veggie with it too. White Cheddar is pretty rich so this meal lasts several nights. I found this recipe in Southern Living Magazine.
Note: I can NEVER find White Cheddar cheese already shredded. The “Cabot” blocks in the picture below are the only ones I can find at the store. I buy two 8oz packages and shred it by hand. If you do this, set the cheese out to come to room temperature about 15-20 minutes before you shred it. Makes it MUCH easier to shred!
-1 pound Farfalle pasta
-2 Tbsp unsalted butter
-2 Tbsp flour
-2 cups milk
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp black pepper
-1/4 tsp ground nutmeg *see note below*
-1 pound white cheddar cheese, shredded (about 4 cups)
-1 package (10 oz) frozen peas, thawed
-1/2 pound finely diced smoked ham
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Cook pasta in lightly salted water following package directions, about 12 minutes. Drain.
2. While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed saucepan (not nonstick) over medium heat. Stir in flour until well blended; cook 1 minute. Whisk in 1 cup of milk and cook, whisking continuously, until smooth. Whisk in remaining 1 cup milk and continue to cook, whisking until thickened and smooth, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in salt, pepper and nutmeg (**I do not have nutmeg in the house, so I use Pumpkin Pie Spice. You can’t really taste any of it in the final dish anyway so you can omit it completely if you want to**). Whisk in 2 cups of the cheese until smooth.
3. In a large bowl, mix together the pasta, cheese sauce and 1 cup of the remaining cheese. Stir in the the peas and ham. Pour into prepared baking dish. Scatter remaining 1 cup cheese evenly over the top.
--I don’t have the patience (or memory) to thaw my peas beforehand, so I put my frozen peas in a glass measuring cup and fill with water. Break them up with your fingers a little bit and let them sit in the water for a couple minuets. They will thaw out enough for the recipe!--
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Remove from oven; allow to cool 10 minutes. May be served warm or at room temperature.
We added some Rosemary Focaccia – yum!