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The Most Comforting Broccoli Cheddar Casserole

There’s just something so comforting about a classic, unfussy pasta casserole. Is it beautiful? Is it trendy? Is it elevated? NO, it is most definitely not. But this pasta casserole IS: easy, kid-friendly, and delicious. Say it with me now. Easy! Kid-Friendly! Delicious! See Alex “helping” me cook this recipe.

Broccoli and cheddar cheese is a pairing sent from heaven. They belong together. I like to add another element to this already heavenly combo, particularly a protein, and in colder seasons ham just feels right. SO here’s the thing though. I don’t actually like ham…so I’ve been using this VERY Pittsburgh thing called Chipped Ham, which comes out wafer thin and just melts into the dish and therefore doesn’t bother me at all. If you actually enjoy the texture and flavor of ham, then by all means please use thicker slices (and higher quality) ham for this recipe.

There’s two simple steps to this recipe. I cook the pasta and then toss the broccoli into the same pot of boiling water for the last minute, then drain them together. In a separate bowl I mix all the other ingredients, then assemble in the casserole dish and bake. There is zero skill involved with this recipe but it’s yummy scrummy and possibly the most important factor of all, kids LOVE it. Zero whiners with this meal.

There’s a time and place for a good casserole. Busy work day? Lots of weekend activities? Just don’t feel like making anything that requires a lot of effort? Need your kids to eat a meal that has a single vegetable in it? Enter the Broccoli Cheddar Ham Casserole, baby.

Broccoli Cheddar and Ham Pasta Casserole

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By Stirs and Stripes Serves: 6 large servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3/4 box of pasta, I use penne
  • 1 10.5 oz can condensed cream of mushroom
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 8 oz grated sharp cheddar
  • 4 cups of broccoli florets, from about 1.5 crowns of broccoli
  • 6-8 oz ham, sliced into small pieces or squares
  • 1/4 tsp each of mustard powder, cayenne, garlic powder, and paprika
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper

Instructions

1

Turn oven to 350 degrees and set a large pot of salted water to boil.

2

While the water is heating, prep the broccoli by cutting into varying sizes. I like a mix of larger and smaller florets so there's broccoli spread evenly throughout this dish.

3

In a bowl, whisk together the cream of mushroom, cream, and stock. Then add the seasoning, and half of the cheddar, stirring to combine.

4

When the water boils, add the pasta and cook JUST until al dente. Err on the side of firm here.

5

For the last minute of cooking time, toss the broccoli into the pot with the water, and then drain both.

6

Place the pasta, broccoli, and ham in a large casserole dish, then pour over the liquid mixture. Stir until evenly mixed.

7

Top with the remaining 1/2 of the cheddar and then bake until done, approx 30-35 minutes.

Notes

If you want to use the whole box of pasta, just scale up the stock to a full 1 cup and maybe a splash extra of the cream.

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