I may or may not be obsessed with the show, The Chew. Their recipes are fantastic. Their show is entertaining and hilarious. Plus, I feel like they're my daytime best friends.
Michael Symon is, I've decided, my brother from another mother. His recipes are always perfection, and this one is absolutely no different.
He takes a simple béchamel sauce [don't get scared - it's very simple!], adds some cheese, throws in ham, pasta, and greens, and voila! #delicious town.
This recipe is very decadent, but so sinfully perfect for the holiday season that we're in. Just pretend like you did a lot of work to make it and therefore worked off the calories. Plus, there's swiss chard, so you can just call it healthy for that alone. Right?
This freezes very well! #bonus
[I actually had to freeze it before I kept eating it out of the pan!]
Cheesy Ham and Gruyere Pasta Bake
5 tbs. unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. paprika
2 cups gruyere cheese, shredded
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 lb. penne pasta
1 tbs. olive oil
1 1-lb. package precooked diced ham
1 bunch Swiss chard, chopped (leaves and stems)
Make the Béchamel
In a large Dutch oven or skillet, melt 4 tbs. butter over medium-high heat. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk to combine. While stirring, add the milk and cream. Season with salt and pepper. Continue stirring until sauce is thickened and lumps have disappeared (about 4 minutes). Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cayenne, paprika, cheese, and eggs**. Set aside.
**It’s extremely important that the eggs are at room temperature or you’ll end up with scrambled eggs in your sauce… eww.**
Pasta and Assembly
Preheat oven to 350.
In a large pot of heavily-salted water, boil the pasta until al dente (about 8 minutes). Drain and set aside.
In an oven-proof large skillet or Dutch oven, add 1 tbs. butter and olive oil and heat until butter has melted. Toss in ham, stir, and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add greens and cook until wilted and soft (about 5 minutes). Season with pepper to taste (don’t add more salt - the ham will be salty enough).
Add pasta to pot with ham and green mixture, then pour the béchamel on top. Toss to combine, then pop in the oven for 25 minutes. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.
Make ahead: Complete all steps above minus the baking in the oven. Assemble casserole, place in dish coated with cooking spray, cover with foil, and place in the fridge. Pull and let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. Then, preheat the oven and cook as above.