After travelling over the weekend I was ready to prepare a home-cooked meal. I bought broccoli and decided to make a casserole with ham and cheese sauce for dinner. I knew that my daughter and her kiddos would be visiting in the evening for a while and I could assemble the casserole ahead of time and bake it quickly in the oven when we were ready to eat.
That worked well. While the casserole was warming up, all I had to do was heat some stewed tomatoes on the stove, slice some bread and presto! Dinner was nearly done. I hadn’t been able to get to our local farmer’s market to buy some good tomatoes yet so canned ones had to do. I did manage to get a loaf of bread baked earlier in the day (I can hardly stand to eat grocery bread any more) so we had good bread to mop up the cheese sauce on our plates.
Ham, broccoli and cheese go so well together. There are all sorts of combinations possible. Broccoli soup flavored with ham or bacon and cheddar is delicious. Sometimes I make an open face sandwich with Canadian bacon on a toasted English muffin with a few broccoli spears and drizzled with cheese sauce. Yesterday’s casserole was so simple that I prepared it in about 15 minutes, cooled it on the counter for a few minutes, then covered it and stored it in the frig for a couple hours before baking it. Here’s the recipe.
Ham and Broccoli Casserole
1 bunch of fresh broccoli, cut into spears, thick spears cut lengthwise for quicker cooking
1-1 1/2 c. cubed ham steaks
2 T. butter
2 T. flour
1 3/4 c. milk
salt and pepper
1/4 t. dry mustard
1/4 t. paprika
1/2 c. chopped onion, optional
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1. Steam broccoli 4-5 minutes until just tender (I put it in a large bowl, partially covered with plastic wrap, and microwaved it for 4 minutes.
2. In the meantime, melt butter in a medium sized heavy saucepan. (If using onion, saute it in the butter until soft.) Add flour and stir over heat for a few minutes to cook the flour.
3. Whisk in milk, salt and pepper to taste, dry mustard, paprika. Continue cooking a few minutes until thick and bubbly. Stir in the cheese until melted.
4. Layer the broccoli in the bottom of an 11 x 7 baking dish, or one of similar size. Next, layer with the ham pieces.
5. Pour the cheese sauce over the ham. (Can be prepared ahead of time to this point; then, let cool for a few minutes and refrigerate covered until ready to bake. Remove from frig about 20 minutes before baking.)
6. Heat oven to 350. Bake 15 minutes covered with foil and 5 minutes uncovered until hot. (Bake 25-30 minutes covered with foil for half the time if prepared ahead of time or until nice and hot.)