Ham-and-cheese pasta bake

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Serves 4

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

Oven temperature: 200°C

  • 150 g ham, chopped
  • 2 cups grated cheese
  • 3 spring onions, chopped
  • 10 ml Dijon mustard
  • 300 g penne, cooked for only 5 minutes 
  • 1 tomato, sliced

CHEESE SAUCE

  • 50 g butter 
  • 30 ml flour
  • 500 ml milk, warm
  • nutmeg, bay leaf, salt and pepper

1 Preheat the oven. Melt the butter in a saucepan until foaming. Whisk in the flour to form a roux and cook for a minute or two before gradually whisking in the warm milk until smooth.

2 Flavour the sauce with nutmeg, bay leaf, salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes on low heat until thick and creamy.

3 Turn off the heat and add the ham, half the cheese, spring onions and mustard to the sauce. Mix in the pasta and immediately pour into an ovenproof casserole. Smooth the top, arrange the tomato slices in a single layer, season and sprinkle the cheese over. Bake for 15 minutes until the cheese is bubbling. A sprinkling of fresh basil is an optional extra.

Tip Only cook the pasta for 4–5 minutes – remember that the final dish is still going to be baked and you want the pasta to be al dente, not mushy and overcooked.

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