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Ham & Swiss Mac ‘n Cheese with Cauliflower, Leeks & Kale

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ham & swiss mac 'n cheese main

 

Being buried in snow and cold = casseroles! I LOVE to make casseroles any time of year, but especially in the dead-cold of winter. I love to make them in the mornings, puttering around in the quiet, when the rest of the world is still, there is almost no sound at all, and everyone else is still sleeping, tucked away and snuggled-in under mountains of blankets.

It gets me going, keeps my feet warm, and starts the day with wonderful smells, preparing the suppertime meal for whenever we’re ready…. (which sometimes is by noon! 😉 )

You can make it all up ahead, then it’s ready for whenever you are! Just pop your casserole into the oven and bake! 😀

A few days ago, I posted my stand-by recipe for béchamel sauce, and this is what I used it for this time! 😀

 

Click here or on the photo for my (easy) “Creamy Rich Béchamel Sauce”.

 

bechamel done

 

Use nice, lean, fully cooked ham.

 

diced ham

 

I used a 1 pound block of swiss cheese, and shredded it myself. This is 3/4 of it to go into the casserole itself, minus a small nibble or two! 😉

(The last goes on top later! 😉 )

 

swiss cheese shredded

 

I didn’t measure my torn kale, but I used three large leaves and it was probably about 2 cups, packed a little. But you can add however much you like. The amount is up to you, really.

I’m kind-of a “Thumper” kind of girl, though. I tear away from the center stem. And I throw that thick middle stem away from each leaf.

My bad.

What can I say? I like “the good stuff”. 😉

 

kale

 

The cauliflower below is from the same exact head that I used over the holidays! 😀 I froze the other half of the head, and now used it for this casserole after thawing. And after it thawed, it was semi-tender, so there was no need to par-boil or cook it before adding to the casserole.

Sorry that I forgot to get a quick photo! But this should give you a general idea. And as always, the cauliflower is an added ingredient and you can add as much or little as you personally enjoy so long as there is going to be enough sauce to coat everything well after adding everything.

*If you are starting from fresh, you may want to partially cook it first before using. But you can just chop it up, toss it in a bowl with a little, minute amount, of water and nuke it until al dente.

Cut the stems away, then cut the heads (below)…

…. “the good stuff”, into very small pieces. Especially helpful to do when trying to sneak veggies in without being detected… 😉

 

cauliflower raw

 

Everything but the noodles folded into the cheesy béchamel…

 

ham & swiss mixture

 

…I used rotini, but you could use traditional macaroni, shells, orecchiette (“little ears”), farfalle (bow tie), wagon wheels, penne, rigatoni, or even linguini or spaghetti!

 

rotini

 

Boil, drain, and fold into the creamy ham, cheese and veggie mixture and pour into a sprayed baking dish. (*The one I used below is a 3 quart baking dish by Corningware that’s a little smaller than a 13×9 and actually measures 12×8 and I had plenty of room.)

 

ham & swiss with rotini

 

Cover with foil and bake, then top with the last of the cheese and wait just a little bit longer! It’s almost done! 😉

 

ham & swiss mac 'n cheese cooling

 

A bit too hot!!! So let it rest a bit before diving in! 😉

 

ham & swiss ready

 

Ok….now we can do the swan dive into the pan! 😉

 

ham & swiss mac 'n cheese main

 

And supper is DONE!

And going fast…! 😀

 

IMG_4965

 

Serve with a simple salad and rolls, and you’re all set! 😀

 

ham & swiss mac 'n cheese

 

This creamy casserole chock-full of goodies will really hit the spot and stick to your ribs on a bitter cold day! I so hope you enjoy!

Take care all, stay warm, and I’ll see you soon! ~Kelly

 

 

Yield: 6-8 servings

Ham & Swiss Mac 'n Cheese with Cauliflower, Leeks & Kale

Ham & Swiss Mac 'n Cheese with Cauliflower, Leeks & Kale

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups béchamel sauce, *see my recipe link/photo above, and add 1/16 tsp. each onion powder and garlic powder
  • 3 cups shredded swiss cheese (from a 1 lb. block - 3/4 of the block)
  • 1/4 cup finely grated parmesan or romano cheese, or Sargento's ground Parmesan & Romano cheese
  • 2 tsp. whole grain mustard
  • 3/4 lb. diced fully cooked ham, (large bite-sized)
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped cauliflower, chop small (*I used fresh frozen, thawed)
  • 3 large kale leaves, center rib removed, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup sliced leeks, (* again used fresh frozen, thawed)
  • 2 cups uncooked rotini noodles, cooked and drained
  • 1 last cup of shredded swiss cheese for the top

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350º F.
  • Make 3 1/2 cups bechamel sauce. (*See my recipe or make your own)
  • Stir in 3/4 lb. of shredded swiss cheese (3 cups), and romano cheese. Stir until completely or mostly melted. Stir in whole grain mustard.
  • Fold in ham, cauliflower, kale and leeks. Fold in cooked and drained noodles.
  • Pour into a sprayed 13x9 or smaller pan, or casserole dish, appropriate for the amount.
  • Cover with foil or glass lid and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, top with last of swiss cheese, and continue baking for another 25 minutes, or until bubbly and cheese is melted and lightly browned in spots.
  • Let rest for at least 15 minutes to set up before serving. (Prepare a salad and enjoy a glass of wine!)
  • Notes

    *What I mean when I say "fresh frozen", is that I have purchased fresh, or grown myself, the named vegetable and had frozen it. I then thaw it before using, which tends to be softened a bit. If using fresh, and not priorly frozen, you may want to cook or par-boil or steam them a little before using to ensure tenderness after cooking in the casserole.


     

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    Kelly

    Saturday 25th of November 2017

    Sorry about that, Larry! The noodles are cooked and drained, and folded in along with the ham, cauliflower, kale and leeks. Recipe is corrected now! Thank you for the head's up! Hope you enjoy!! :)

    larry

    Saturday 25th of November 2017

    Looks like a great recipe. Cauliflower. kale, leeks, in a belchmel sauce looks wonderful. A bit confused as I don't know when, where or how to cook the noodles. Thank you.

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