Cheesy Baked Penne is a baked pasta dish using up leftover ham and plenty of cheeses. It’s the perfect comfort food dish to make for dinner!
I’m so excited to share this recipe with you today because this is one of my favorite easy meals. And it’s such a great recipe to make during the holidays when you have leftover ham to use up. If you don’t have leftover ham, you can buy a ham steak from the store and use that instead. I have loved making this Cheesy Baked Penne recipe for so many years. It’s time for you to try it too!
How to make Cheesy Baked Penne:
The first thing you’ll do is make a simple white sauce. In one pan, you’ll heat up the milk until it’s piping hot. You can even do this in a large glass measuring cup in the microwave if you don’t want to mess up a pan. In another pan, you’ll melt butter, stir in flour and season it with a little nutmeg and pepper. Then you’ll gradually whisk in the hot milk to create the sauce. It won’t be a thick sauce. That’s okay! Then you can set aside the sauce while you prepare the pasta. You’ll want to cook it to an al dente (barely tender) state.
Next, you’ll combine the cooked pasta, ham, cubed Provolone cheese and Parmesan cheese in a bowl with the sauce.
Then it’s all spooned into a casserole dish and sprinkled with a little more Parmesan cheese. You will notice that the sauce is probably not as creamy as you’re expecting. Again– that’s how it’s supposed to be. It will thicken up as it baked in the oven, and it’s used to further cook the pasta and make it more tender. This Cheesy Baked Pasta will bake for 25 minutes covered, and then another 10 minutes uncovered.
The result is a wonderful, steaming hot, melted cheese, ham and pasta casserole that is so delicious!
- The recipe calls for using penne pasta, but you can use any pasta for this recipe. Try using shells, rigatoni, fusilli or something along those lines.
- Use leftover turkey or chicken in place of ham.
- The provolone cheese really adds great flavor in this baked pasta recipe, but you can certainly change up the cheeses, if you’d like. Try using mozzarella in place of the provolone, or add in a little mozzarella with the provolone and the Parmesan to make it super cheesy!
- Try adding in sautéed mushrooms and green onions too (or leave out the peas and add in mushrooms/green onions instead).
I hope you will try one of my favorite, easy baked pasta recipes! Enjoy!
Here are a few more recipes using ham that you might like to try:
- Ham and Lentil Soup
- Ham and Cheese Manicotti
- Baked Ham and Cheese Sliders
- Creamy Parmesan Noodles with Ham
- Ham and Cheese Potato Croquettes
- Ham and Bean Skillet Spaghetti
- Leftover Ham Casserole
- Ham and Cheese Baked Gnocchi
Cheesy Baked Penne
- 4 cups 2% milk
- ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg (can use freshly grated)
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 16 ounces penne pasta, cooked to al dente
- 1½ cups diced ham
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1 cup diced provolone cheese
- 1 cup freshly grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
PREPARE THE SAUCE:
- In a medium saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat until small bubbles form around the edges. In a larger saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the flour and stir well. Continue to cook, stirring, until thick and smooth, about 2 minutes. Slowly begin adding the hot milk to the large saucepan, whisking constantly while adding. The sauce will start out lumpy and become smooth as the milk is incorporated. Stir in the nutmeg and freshly ground pepper. Turn the heat up to medium and bring the sauce to a simmer for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside while you prepare the pasta.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a shallow 2½-quart baking dish.
ASSEMBLE THE DISH:
- In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta with the sauce. Stir in the peas, ham, provolone and ¾ cup of the Parmesan. Scrape the mixture into the baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.
- Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil. Bake for 25 minutes. Uncover and bake until the sauce is bubbling around the edges and the center is hot (about 10 minutes more). Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.
- If you are making this recipe as "egg free," just make sure the pasta and ham don't have any egg products in them.