Ham and Cheese Macaroni Bake

Mac-and-cheese is one of my favorite comfort foods stemming from my childhood. How can you go wrong combining pasta with a pile of cheesy goodness? Answer: You can’t. Luckily, this Cooking Light recipe is a little bit healthier than most mac-and-cheese dishes. The original recipe include peas but since those are on my ick list, I left them out. Definitely will be making this recipe again. Beware that it makes a LOT so be prepared for lots of delicious leftovers or serve it to a lot of people.

Yum! I love how pretty and golden brown this is. I used whole-grain bread instead of white bread since it’s what I had on hand and it worked out well, even gave the topping a nuttier flavor (I also used whole-grain pasta so it complemented well).

Is this picture making anyone else hungry or is it just me? Adding the ham was a nice flavorful touch but it could easily be left out of substituted with something else. I used a honey ham so it added a bit of sweetness.

Ham and Cheese Macaroni Bake

Serves: 8
Recipe courtesy Cooking Light

1 pound uncooked medium elbow macaroni
1 1/2 cups chopped lean ham
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
3 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
1 cup shredded reduced-fat extra sharp cheddar cheese (4 ounces)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 (1-ounce) slices white bread
2 tablespoons butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Cook pasta in boiling water 6 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain. Combine pasta and ham in a large bowl.
3. Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion to pan; cook 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add milk; bring to a simmer. Remove from heat; stir in cheeses, salt, and peppers. Pour cheese mixture over pasta mixture; stir to coat. Spoon pasta mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
4. Place bread in food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure 1 1/4 cups. Combine breadcrumbs and butter in a bowl. Arrange breadcrumb mixture evenly over pasta mixture. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

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~ by spontaneoustruth on April 26, 2010.

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