HAM, VEGGIE & NOODLE CASSEROLE (no canned soup)
8 oz. mini pasta (bowties, penne, shells) ~ cooked al dente & drained (but not rinsed) ~ cook for less time than you normally would, since they’ll bake later
2 TB all-purpose flour……………………....2 TB butter
2-1/2 cups milk (any kind ~ I like unsweetened almond or cashew milk)
About 1-1/2 cups shredded cheese (I like Fiesta or Taco blends)
About 1 to 1-1/2 cups leftover ham (or more), cut into cubes
1 tsp. black pepper…………………………....2 tsp. fresh parsley, chopped
More Kosher salt & black pepper, as needed
1 (10-12 oz.) pkg. frozen peas, or mixed vegetables (don’t need to thaw them first)
1 carrot (ONLY if using pkg. of just peas)
Another 1/2 cup shredded cheese (to top casserole)
Preheat oven to 375. Spray a deep square pan (or 3 qt. casserole dish) with cooking spray, and set aside. *** (1) If you’re using just frozen peas, peel the carrot and slice. (2) If your vegetables are still frozen, put them under running water, just get ice off so it doesn’t melt in sauce and add too much liquid later.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Whisk flour into melted butter until combined. Gradually whisk milk into flour mixture (about half cup at a time), until it’s nice and smooth. Let it cook until there’s a rim of white around the inside of the pan (just a minute or two ~ the sauce is thinking about thickening up).
Lower heat to high simmer. Then stir cheese, ham, pepper, parsley and veggies into sauce just until cheese is melted. (Taste and adjust salt & pepper, if needed.) Stir in cooked pasta until combined well, and put it all into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the extra cheese on top.
Bake in preheated oven (uncovered) for 20 minutes or until top is golden brown and edges are bubbly. (You can add more fresh chopped parsley, if you want) Serve right away (or reheat individual servings in microwave later). ** Serves 4-6.