Creamy ham and mushroom bake
What's up with this weather? We're supposed to be heading into the thick of winter and it's 23ºC and sunny here in Cape Town. One of the most frustrating things about a change of season is that the mornings and evenings are chilly, but the afternoons are often sunny and warm. So what do you put on the menu when it's too hot for a bowl of soup, but not balmy enough for a summer salad?
Our answer is good ol' pasta. This simple ham and mushroom bake makes a great week night meal for the family.
50g butter, plus a little extra
200g small mushrooms, halved
1 bunch spring onions, finely sliced
50g plain flour
140g thickly cut ham, chopped
140g cheddar cheese, grated
1. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions, then drain.
2. Heat oven to 200ºC, then melt a little butter in a large saucepan.
3. Fry the mushrooms for a couple of minutes, then scoop out and set aside. Use some kitchen paper to wipe out the pan.
4. Melt the remaining butter in the pan, then add onions (leaving some aside) and soften for one minute.
5. Stir in the flour for another minute, then gradually stir in the milk until you have a lump-free sauce.
6. Increase the heat and bubble the sauce, stirring for a few minutes to thicken. Turn off the heat, stir in the ham and most of the cheese, then season to taste.
7. Pour the pasta and mushrooms into a large ovenproof dish, then pour over the sauce and mix well in the dish.
8. Scatter over the remaining cheese and spring onions, then bake for 10 minutes until golden.