Diced ham and frozen peas gives this traditional macaroni and cheese a twist.
Macaroni and cheese is one of those recipes everyone should have in their arsenal. Almost everyone I know loves mac and cheese, especially my kiddos, and me of course, we could eat it every night. Homemade is so easy and soooo much better than that box stuff and with the addition of ham and peas this makes a great all in one meal.
For this macaroni and cheese with ham and peas I used some prediced ham, frozen peas, extra sharp cheddar cheese and Swiss cheese. If you don’t like extra sharp you can use your favorite cheese. One thing I have learned in order to get a smooth cheese sauce is shred your own cheese. Prepackaged shredded cheese has a coating on it that makes it not melt very well and become clumpy. Trust me, you don’t want clumpy mac and cheese. Also, make sure once the milk comes to a simmer, take the pot off the stove and gradually add in the cheese, don’t dump it all together.
For the topping, mix together some panko bread crumbs and melted butter. If you don’t like the bread crumbs it is fine to leave them off.
Macaroni and Cheese with Ham and Peas
- 1 pound uncooked medium elbow macaroni
- 1 1/2 cups diced ham
- 1 1/2 cups frozen peas
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 3 cups milk I used 2%
- 1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
- 1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Cook pasta according to package. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Combine pasta, ham, and peas in a large bowl.
- Coat a medium saucepan with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add onion to saucepan and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring. frequently.
- Add milk and bring to a simmer.
- Remove saucepan from heat and gradually add in cheese a little at a time. Make sure each batch of cheese is melted before adding more. Stir in salt and pepper.
- Pour cheese mixture over pasta and stir to coat all of the pasta.
- Put pasta mixture in a 13x9 baking dish sprayed with cooking spray.
- In a small bowl combine panko crumbs and melted butter. Spread crumbs over the top of pasta.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until panko crumbs are slightly browned.