Ham and Cheese Casserole

I have to admit, there’s part of me that’s very much the 1950′s housewife. And part of that involves a love of casserole. Shawn hates it, but even he couldn’t make fun of this one. It was amazing. And using whole wheat pasta and pairing it with a classic beet salad gave it a very mature flavor. It looks like a lot of steps, but it only took around 40 minutes start to finish.

The salad was super easy to throw together. I roasted some beets last night (wrap whole beets in foil and throw them in a 400-degree oven for an hour. Let them cool, peel off the skins, and cut into chunks.) and served them over baby spinach, a few chopped walnuts, some chevre, and light cranberry vinaigrette. Perfect!
For the casserole (based on one from cooking light, of course!):

1 lb. whole wheat elbows
1 small onion, diced
3 c. skim milk
1/4 lb. light swiss, shredded
1/4 lb. extra sharp cheddar, shredded
sage, to taste
pepper, to taste
cayanne to taste
6 oz ham steak, cubed
1.5 c. frozen peas
2 oz. bread
2 T. butter

1. Add pasta to boiling water and cook 6 minutes. Drain. Toss with peas and ham.

2. While pasta is cooking, cook onion in a small saucepan until golden (about four minutes). Add milk and sage and bring to a simmer.

3. Remove saucepan from heat. Stir in peppers and cheese. Stir until cheese melts and incorporates into the sauce.

4. Spread pasta mixture into a baking dish. Pour sauce over top, and swish it around so it gets all mixed together.

5. Melt butter in the sauce pan from the cheese sauce. Put bread in food processor, and process until it fors medium-sized crumbs (about 5 pulses). Toss bread in melted butter. Spread bread over top of pasta.

6. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.

Serves 8. Approx 405 calories.

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