I think I’ve mentioned that this baby is begging for calcium!
I went a little crazy in the cheese section at Whole Foods so some homemade Mac N Cheese sounded perfect! While I’m not a huge lunch meat fan, I think the very fact that I am not allowed to eat cold lunch meat had me craving some ham. So, I grabbed some nitrite-free ham, whole grain noodles, fresh and plump tomatoes and headed home to cook up some good soul food!
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 lb. whole grain noodles (spiral or elbow)
2 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
4 cups cheese (I like to use a combination of white cheddar and gruyère)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 lb. nitrite-free ham, cut into cubes
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
2 large tomatoes, sliced or diced (in retrospect, I should have diced!)
For the crust:
Homemade breadcrumbs or panko
1/2 cup grated cheese (cheddar, gruyère or parmesan)
1 tablespoon melted butter
Pre-heat the oven to 350˚
Butter a casserole dish and set aside.
Cook pasta in boiling, salted water. Drain, rinse, and set aside.
Heat milk until just before boiling and set aside.
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Once the butter foams up, add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. While still whisking, slowly add the hot milk. Continue whisking for 6-8 minutes until the milk mixture thickens.
Remove from heat and stir in some fresh ground black pepper, nutmeg, and cheese.
Stir in the thyme
Stir in the pasta
Stir in the ham
Place into casserole dish
Top with fresh tomato
Mix 1 tablespoon melted butter, breadcrumbs and cheese
Sprinkle over the casserole and bake …
… until golden brown! (about 45 minutes)
** A slight variation on Jennifer Chandler’s recipe in Simply Suppers! While I have not gotten my hands on a copy yet I would highly recommend doing so! I’m hoping for one wrapped up under my tree this December!