One-pot Mac ‘n Cheese with Ham ‘n Peas

Boxed macaroni and cheese is my shame food. There, I’ve said it.

One Pot Mac n Cheese with Ham n Peas

Shame food = food one is embarrassed and ashamed to admit they really, really like.

I’ve convinced myself that it isn’t so bad because I fancy it up with sour cream, smoked salmon and peas. To make matters worse, Emma has adopted my shame food as a favourite too. She doesn’t see it as a bad thing, but I know that the food colouring, mystery cheese powder and white pasta are a less than ideal addition to our diet.

That’s where this one-pot mac ‘n cheese comes in. The ingredients in this dish are straightforward: whole wheat pasta, milk, cheese, mustard and salt. And some ham and peas. Although we played around with many different shapes of pasta, Emma always prefers the elbows. We also have added roasted squash as well as tried it with canned salmon. It’s all good — it’s almost as easy as that boxed stuff but tastes so much better and is better for you and your family.

For the record, I’m happy to say Emma no longer requests “that” macaroni and cheese.

One-Pot Mac ‘n Cheese with Ham ‘n Peas

adapted from Macaroni and Cheesecake
(serves 4)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped pancetta or ham
  • 3 cups dried medium-sized whole wheat pasta (like elbows or gemelli)
  • 2 1/4 – 2 1/2 cups skim milk
  • 3 cups loosely packed shredded light cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cups frozen summer sweet peas
  • 1 tsp of your favourite mustard (this is ours)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the ham and  brown it until the edges are just golden. Remove the ham to a small bowl and set it aside.

Add the noodles and 2 1/4 cups of milk to the pot and stir. Place the lid on the pot leaving it slightly open and continue to cook the noodles for 20 minutes or until they are al dente. The milk will have thickened during this time as well.

Remove the saucepan from heat and stir in the cheese, peas, mustard, salt and ham. If it’s too thick, add some milk, a little at a time and stir. When you’ve reached your desired consistency, cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve.

Tips and Suggestions:

  • Not all cheeses are created equal. That is to say, that we’ve made this with some cheeses only to find that they don’t reheat very well or can be a little grainy once melted. Experiment and see which one(s) works best for you.
  • Remember to stir, often. The pasta will likely stick to the bottom of the pot if you don’t stir.
  • Have leftovers? Warm over low heat and add a little extra milk, if needed, to return it to your desired consistency.

I shared this on TidyMom’s I’m Lovin’ It Fridays.

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