Ham and Pasta Bake

By Patrick Gitau

INGREDIENTS

340 gms of fusilli pasta

Salt for pasta water

4 tbsps of butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 tbsps of flour

2 1/2 cups milk

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

1 cup of water

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning ( a mix of dried oregano, thyme, and basil)

3/4 teaspoons salt

1 cup shredded Sirimon Mozzarella

1/2 cup Sirimon Everyday cheese

2 cups diced ham

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/4 cup chopped fresh green onion greens or chives

METHOD

For the pasta:

Put a big pot of salted water onto boil on high heat for the pasta. While the pasta water is heating, prep the other ingredients.

Once the water has reached a rolling boil, add the pasta and stir so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Let the water return to a rolling boil and cook, uncovered, for 9 to 10 minutes, until the pasta is cooked through but still slightly firm to the bite.

For the roux:

Melt the butter in a large thick-bottomed pot on medium heat. Add the minced garlic. Let the garlic sizzle for a few seconds. Add the flour and whisk so that any lumps are dissolved. Let the roux (flour and butter) bubble and cook for a minute or two.

For the sauce:

To the roux, slowly add the milk and cream, a quarter cup at a time, whisking until incorporated after each addition. Increase the heat to medium-high. Add in the ground nutmeg, black pepper, salt, Italian seasoning, half of the shredded Mozzarella and everyday cheese, whisking until melted and incorporated into the sauce.

Stir in 1 cup of water (can use pasta cooking water if you want).

Preheat oven to 180° degrees

Combine pasta with sauce, ham, parsley, onion greens: Drain the cooked pasta and add it to the sauce. Add the ham. Add the chopped parsley and onion greens or chives. Gently stir to combine. Taste, and add more nutmeg, salt, pepper, or Italian seasoning to taste.

Transfer the pasta mixture to an oven-proof casserole dish and sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese. Bake in the oven at 180° degrees for 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned on top.