This "cheesy" ham and pasta bake is my new favourite weeknight dinner. And once you've made it, it's going to be yours too! The recipe is AIP and Paleo compliant and I'm going to throw in some reintroduction modifications and Low FODMAP options for you, in case you want to switch it up a bit.
This is quite a gutsy meal, so a perfect accompaniment for me is just a simple fresh green salad with a dressing made of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Nothing fussy, nothing complicated but let me know what you prefer.
The cheesy ham and pasta bake is made in stages, but don't worry, each one is very simple and not overly time consuming. Everything overlaps one another so that everything is ready at the same time.
If you can get hold of Jovial cassava pasta it will really uplevel your meal time. It's AIP compliant, absolutely delicious and, best of all, means that pasta shapes and spaghetti are back on the menu! My preference penne for this bake but fusilli also works, you just need to choose one that keeps its shape when cooked and traps all that lovely sauce. Remember to undercook slightly so it doesn't end up "pappy" once it's been baked.
Want to make this "cheesy" ham and pasta bake ahead?
You could absolutely do this. Make the whole thing as though you were about to bake it but keep to one side until completely cooled. Cover and refrigerate. Remember the second cooking time will take longer because it is being heated from cold, as opposed to room temperature.
You could also make up the white sauce in advance and store in the fridge until needed. If you choose to do this, cut out a small circle of parchment paper, a little larger than the diameter of the container the sauce will be stored in. Run it under the cold tap and then scrunch it up. Open the parchment and place over the top of the sauce. This will stop it from forming a skin. You would typically do this with plastic wrap but I don't want to put plastic on my food and I'm guessing you don't either!
Is it freezer friendly?
Absolutely it is. Cover it well and freeze until needed. Just make sure the dish you store it in is oven proof, or else transfer the mixture to your baking dish once defrosted.
Does it taste very coconut-ty?
It actually doesn't. I deliberately mixed the coconut milk with water and broth so it's neither coconut-ty in flavour nor overly rich and heavy. You don't need to use broth, but it will add some extra healing nutrients.
Can I use any other meats instead of ham?
Yes, definitely. You could substitute shredded chicken or turkey, or even 3 cans of tuna instead. Taste the mixture before baking because it will probably need more nutritional yeast and/or sea salt.
Is this cheesy ham and pasta bake low FODMAP?
The recipe is not written to be low FODMAP but here's how you can adapt it for one sensible serving -
- Be sure to make a broth without onions and garlic
- Get a large leek and use the green part only
- Nutritional yeast is fine at 15g (1 tbsp) per serving so you're good
- Coconut milk is fine at 1/2 cup serving so you're good
- Cassava flour is fine at 15g (1 tbsp) so the sauce is okay but you will need to use something other than the pasta. Consider using something like rutabaga or zucchini noodles instead.
If you give this a try please leave me a comment to let me know how much you love it. And don't forget to tag me on Instagram @healing_family_eats so I can see, and share your creations.
And if you're into bakes, easy one pot recipes and reintroductions, you'll love my upcoming book, The Autoimmune Protocol Reintroduction Cookbook.
"Cheesy" Ham and Pasta Bake
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 75 minutes
Print the recipe here!
1 small bunch dinosaur (lacinato) kale, chopped
1 box 1 packet Jovial cassava penne pasta
5 tablespoons fat, such as bacon grease, lard (or ghee for a Stage 1 Reintroduction)
5 tablespoons cassava flour
1 can coconut milk (I like Aroy-D Organic)
1 cup water
1 cup chicken bone broth (or more water)
1/3 cup nutritional yeast, + 1 tsp for the topping (or a cheese such as pecorino for a Stage 3 reintroduction)
generous pinch sea salt
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small leek, thinly sliced
12 oz (340g) AIP compliant ham, cut into 1/4 inch slices and cubed
Fill a large bowl with cold water and add some ice cubes.
Boil a large pan of water. Blanch the kale for 45 seconds and, using a slotted spoon, remove and place into the ice bath
Make a roux. Mix the liquids together in a jug. Heat the fat in a medium pan and add the cassava flour. Stir for a minute on a low-medium heat to cook out the flour taste. Pour in 1/3 of the liquid, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Add the another 1/3 and then the remainder, stirring all the time. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent the sauce from sticking to the pan. Remove from the heat and stir in 1/3 cup of the nutritional yeast. Add sea salt to taste and set aside.
Meanwhile cook the penne in the same water used for the kale for 2 minutes less than the manufacturer’s instructions. Drain.
Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan and add the leeks. Sauté on a low heat for around 5 minutes until softened.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Put the ham, kale and leeks into a large bowl. Squeeze kale to remove excess water and add to the mixture. Pour over the white sauce and mix well. Spoon the mixture into an 11 x 8 inch or equivalent (3 pint capacity) oven-proof baking dish. Sprinkle the extra nutritional yeast over the top.
Bake for 55-60 minutes until bubbling and golden brown on the top. Finish under the broiler for a bit more colour if you like and serve.