Comfort food at its best, Ham and Asparagus Casserole delivers delicious vegetables and ham in a creamy, rich sauce.
“It seems odd to put green beans in a casserole,” my husband told me in response to my question about whether he liked this casserole or not.
If you’ve been hanging out with me here for very long, you’ve seen me omit a fact or two about ingredients that are, or aren’t, in various dishes I’ve made. The withheld information works particularly well when I’m attempting to slide a vegetable in a dish that I know Sophie will like if she doesn’t know it’s in there.
Zucchini in bread would be a perfect example if not for the fact that the zucchini’s skin is so … green. The chocolate beet layer cake, however, did get past her.
But this was Doug. Just because he thought he was eating green beans doesn’t make it right to not tell him that it was asparagus … does it?
Ham casseroles never happen very soon after the ham hits the table. What we don’t eat for dinner is nibbled on for a few days afterwards, whether with breakfast, in a sandwich, or as a quick snack on the go. That’s how it was with the Brown Sugar Glazed Ham that was used to make this casserole.
Even though cavatappi is usually cooked a bit longer than 8 minutes, it’s important not to let it boil in the pot any more than the instructions say since it will finish softening up in the casserole dish (mushy pasta is one of my pet peeves). One drained, the pasta and asparagus is dumped in the casserole dish and topped with the chopped up ham.
I used the same pan to sauté my carrots and onions and make the cream sauce, keeping the clean-up to just one pan (always a good thing). I poured the sauce over the pasta and ham, worked it in a bit, then sprinkled the butter-saturated bread crumbs over the whole thing.
The casserole went into the oven for a bit over 20 minutes and came out hot and bubbly.
Yes, I did tell Doug that the green stuff was asparagus, not green beans, and he was unimpressed with my attempt to ‘get one by’ Sophie and him. Other than that, however, he really enjoyed the casserole, as did I. The cream sauce is fantastic and pulls together the ham, vegetables and pasta very well. It stayed creamy, even when the leftovers were reheated in the microwave.
Sophie was Sophie and tried to eat around the vegetables. She said she really liked the ham, pasta and sauce a lot, which leads me to think that this would be a home made mac and cheese dish that she’d enjoy. I might have to get that a try.
I will admit that I doubled up on the amount of carrots. One half cup just didn’t seem like a whole lot. I’m glad I did.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
Ham and Asparagus Casserole Recipe
- 8 cups water
- ½ pound cavatappi pasta
- 3 teaspoons plus ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
- 2 cups chopped fresh asparagus
- 3 cups chopped cooked ham
- 6 tablespoon unsalted butter
- ½ cup chopped yellow onion
- ½ cup chopped carrot
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 cup shredded fontina cheese
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 2 teaspoon coarse-ground Dijon mustard
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ⅓ cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
- Preheat oven to 350. Spray a 2½-quart baking dish with cooking spray.
- Bring 8 cups of water to a boil in a Dutch oven. Add pasta and 1 teaspoon salt; cook 7 minutes. Add asparagus and cook one minute more. Drain, then spread in the prepared dish. Top with the ham.
- Melt the butter over medium-high heat in the same pan. Add the onion and carrots and sauté until softened, about three minutes.
- Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables, cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Add the milk, whisking constantly, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly.
- Remove from heat. Stir in cheese, thyme, mustard, garlic powder, pepper and 2 teaspoons salt. Pour cheese sauce over pasta mixture.
- In a small bowl, stir together panko, reserved 2 tablespoons melted butter and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Sprinkle over casserole.
- Bake until lightly browned and bubbly, about 22 minutes.