Friday, April 6, 2012

Curly pasta, Cheese and Ham Bake

This is for those cheese lovers!  My whole family enjoy this dish.  Instead of using ham, tuna, salami, sausage all go well with this pasta gratin too. 

The pasta should be boiled in salty water until al dente.  'Al dente' is the Italian expression to describe the pasta, rice or bean to be cooked just firm but not hard.  It also describes the vegetables that are cooked to the 'tender crisp' phase.  Keeping the pasta firm is very important as it will be cooked twice.

For us, the best part is the brown crispy cheese on the top.  That's why I had chosen a shallow dish for this pasta gratin.

500g curly pasta
150g ham, cut
2 cups (500ml) milk
80g butter
3 tbsp plain flour
100g Cheddar cheese, roughly grated
100g grated pizza cheese
pinch ground nutmeg
60g Parmesan, finely grated, (more if you like the brown cheese on top)
Salt and pepper to taste
Serves 5-6

1.  Boil the pasta until al dente.  Drain, do not rinse, and return to the pot.

2.  While boiling the pasta, heat the milk until just simmering.  In another saucepan, melt butter, stir in flour and cook until foaming.  Remove from heat and whisk in the milk.  Return to heat, add nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste and whisk until there is no lump for about a minute.

3.  Preheat oven to 180 degree C.

4.  Pour the sauce over pasta, stir in both cheese and ham.  Grease an ovenproof dish and pour in the pasta mixture.  Sprinkle with Parmesan and bake for 20 minutes or until the top is golden.  Enjoy...

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