The working base for this recipe is inspired by my recipe for macaroni and cheese, (which also happened to be my very first post on this blog). In an attempt to try and make this not too over the top, I opted to use penne pasta made with 51% whole wheat. I think its hearty texture and flavor is a nice foil for a rich cheese sauce.
This is a great family-pleasing meal that can be on your table in under an hour. Probably 30 minutes if you are one of those that can really cook a "30 minute meal", which admittedly I cannot. I always allow myself an hour for their 30 minutes.
Penne with Ham, Broccoli and White Cheddar
8 oz. whole wheat penne (or 51% wheat penne, which is what I used here)
2 c. bite-sized broccoli florets
1 c. chopped ham
8 oz sharp white cheddar, shredded
1/2 T. unsalted butter
1 small to medium shallot, minced (2-3 T.)
1 (12 oz.) can 2% lowfat evaporated milk
3/4 c. lowfat milk
2 t. cornstarch
Fresh ground pepper
1. In a large pot, bring 3 quarts of water to a boil. Add 2 t. salt and the penne. Cook according to package directions, adding the broccoli to the boiling pasta for the last 2 1/2 minutes of cooking. Remove 1/2 c. of the pasta cooking water. Drain pasta and broccoli. Return to the pot.
2. Meanwhile, start the sauce base. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook stirring often until shallot is softened, 2-3 minutes. Add in the evaporated milk and 1/2 c. of the lowfat milk. Bring to a simmer.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining 1/4 c. lowfat milk and cornstarch.
4. When the sauce base comes to a full simmer, add in the milk/cornstarch mixture. Continue to simmer, stirring constantly until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the cheese until melted.