Baked Pasta with Ham, Tomatoes & Peas ♥

A healthful alternative to mac'n'cheese, enough for supper tonight and another for the freezerHonestly, I didn't expect to write about this pasta dish, even though it's my new 'go to' recipe for baked pasta and completely delicious. But when Kevin the Comic of Seriously Good invited food bloggers to join the only annual mac'n'cheese off, I pulled the second dish out of the freezer.

Technically, of course, my dish isn't mac'n'cheese: it's adulterated with more than well, macaroni and cheese. But here's why it works, especially in January when some of us are slimming down after holiday indulgences:
  • There are vegetables in there, also leftover smoked ham from Christmas
    • Add a salad and it's a whole meal
  • For carb watchers, I used Dreamfield's pasta -- have you found it yet?
    • Dreamfield's is the low-carb pasta that tastes so great you can't tell the difference
    • Officially, Dreamfield's pasta has a low-glycemic index so works for both low-carb and diabetic diets
    • I'm ever grateful to the South Beach blogging queen Kalyn's Kitchen for the recommendation over a year ago
    • Dreamfields is sold online now but in St. Louis, Schnucks is carrying it again, despite pulling all other low-carb pastas from their shelves
  • For Weight Watchers, there are only 3 points per one-cup serving
    • I may love-love-love my Mom's macaroni and cheese (egg noodles in a white sauce with onion and garlic and yes, Velveeta) but can eat the whole pot myself
    • I may love-love-love this gorgeous creamy macaroni & cheese but it eats up 12 points and then only if I can muster the self-discipline to stop at a small-ish serving
I suspect that this dish is only as good as its ingredients. Choose good ham (I used leftovers from a Miller ham that's smoked right here in St. Louis and found at Ladue Market) and good cheese (in my case, Gruyere).

And hey, Kevin? You know how you said that the mac'n'cheese off is "... not a contest, it's a life style choice."? If so, in January, my friend, I choose an alternative life style. Will you still let me play?

BAKED PASTA with HAM, TOMATOES & PEAS

Hands-on time: about 35 minutes
Time to table: about 1 1/4 hours
Makes 14 cups

8 ounces curly noodles or rigatoni, cooked in well-salted water (the inspiring recipe said 12 ounces, I actually cooked 16, thinking it would be needed to balance with all the other ingredients: NOT)
2 cups diced smoked ham (3 cups was too many)
2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup crumbled feta
4 ounces good melting cheese, grated (I used Gruyere)
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme (this was better than expected, and important, but next time I might use fresh sage or thyme or even basil)
8 ounces frozen peas
Salt & pepper to taste
1 cup half & half (the inspiring recipe used cream, the reviewers reported great luck with whole milk)

Preheat oven to 375F. Gently combine all ingredients except cream in a large bowl. Transfer to a well-greased 9x13 glass or ceramic dish. (Or like me, split between two dishes, one for supper and one for the freezer). Prep ahead to here. Cover and refrigerate and return to room temperature before continuing.

Pour half & half over pasta. Cover with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Uncover and stir well. Bake until heated through, 30 - 45 minutes.



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© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2007


9 comments:

That looks and reads seriously good.

You are so cute to call me the South Beach Diet blogging queen, but quite seriously isn't the Dreamfield's pasta amazing. My store has started selling it on sale for $1.89 a box about once a month, so I feel reassured that I'm not the only one buying it! But even if you had to order it by the box from Amazon.com for anyone watching carbs it's a fabulous product.

Alanna,
And the non-contest begins!

I think you're the first to post. But, having left the cheese out, I guess it didn't take you as long.

That and the whole already-made-it-and-frozen-it thing.

Alanna,
Sorry, I skimmed past the cheese in your recipe (I should learn to pay more attention).

Bet this would be good without the ham, too, huh?

I have some leftover ham in the fridge, can't wait to try this.

Looks wonderful to me! I think you can put anything into mac-n-cheese!

Hi Tanna ~ "Looks" yes, when baked not in the frozen state!

Kalyn ~ You are, m'dear!

Kevin ~ There IS cheese! Oh! you noticed! ;-)

Christine ~ Of course, but I must say, I loved the combination. Something about mild noodles and salty ham and creamy cheese.

Sara ~ Yes, perfect for leftovers!

Sher ~ You can but we must admit, there's something extraordinary about the unadulterated versions.

Thanks for the inspiration. I combined with another recipe and so borrowed ideas here and there...Dreamfields, feta, gruyere, thyme, and used fresh grape tomatoes (only about four oz., that's what I had). The other recipe suggested regular milk (I only had skim) so i whisked in two T flour as I had no cream or like substitute). The addition of dried breadcrumbs with parsley and a spray or two of evoo topped off this great way to utilize ham leftovers! Thank you!!

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna