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Ham and Cheese Pasta

Kids and adults alike will love this dressed-up version of creamy macaroni and cheese from our Test Kitchen.
  • Total Time
    Prep/Total Time: 30 min.
  • Makes
    4 servings


  • 3 cups uncooked bow tie pasta
  • 3/4 pound fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 pound sliced deli ham, chopped


  • Cook pasta according to package directions, adding asparagus during the last 3 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt butter; add garlic. Stir in the flour, onion powder, pepper and thyme until blended; gradually add milk. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.
  • Reduce heat. Add cheeses; stir until melted. Stir in ham; heat through. Drain pasta and asparagus; toss with cheese mixture.

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Average Rating:
  • hannahjw88
    May 28, 2011

    I love this recipe! It has all the cheesy goodness that I love, and the ham and asparagus make it that much more delicious! It freezes well in small portions, which makes it even better.

  • jen k
    Feb 8, 2011

    My family loves this dish. It's quick and easy to make. Delicious!

  • lindsey0102
    Oct 15, 2010

    I liked this recipe. It did not taste as heavy as I thought it would. It had a good creamy flavor and my kids loved it. (Thank God).

  • sarahdraper08
    Jul 21, 2010

    Pretty good meal! It is very easy to make. The sauce is not soupy if you allow it to thicken. I used multigrain pasta, and I also thought the aspargus was a nice touch. Overall, this is a simple, quick, easy dish to make if you have leftover ham. I don't plan to make this dish regularly, but it is good.

  • FloridaTav
    May 26, 2010

    Maybe people should stop omitting the asparagus, since the majority who didn't like this did just that. I recently made this again and used skim milk in place of whole and it took a bit longer to thicken, but still came out delicious. The flavors of the ham, asparagus and cheeses blended together perfectly and just like the first time I made it, it was all gone by the next day. I suppose everyone has different tastes.

  • kristinafoss
    Apr 15, 2010

    This was a quick and easy recipe. It worked out great since I had leftover ham sandwich meat. I replaced the asparagus with broccoli. My family really enjoyed it!

  • Guidopuppy
    Apr 15, 2010

    I made this recipe omitting the asparagus. It was very bland and floury tasting. No favor at all. Was really bad!

  • FloridaTav
    Apr 14, 2010

    I don't understand why some people have given this negative reviews. The only conclusion I can come to for the one whose recipe came out "swimming in sauce" is that you either measured the ingredients wrong or you did not allow enough time for the milk and roux to thicken before adding your cheese. Two minutes is only a suggestion. If you need more time to get it nice and thick, then you wait and keep stirring. This recipe was delicious! Rich, creamy, cheesy and very flavorful and I'm a picky eater! My husband and I even went back for seconds and are looking forward to eating the leftovers for tonight's dinner. I will definitely make this again. I used whole milk, but if you wanted to lighten it up a bit, I'm sure you could substitute skim milk and use less cheese. You could also switch out the asparagus with peas or broccoli. It wouldn't alter the wonderful flavor of this dish.

  • taradalene
    Apr 8, 2010

    I made this recipe omitting the asparagus and it did not turn out good at all! I will not be making this recipe again.

  • tkarinas
    Apr 7, 2010

    Ham and cheese pasta turns out absolutely delicious and is one my family makes any time we have the ingredients. It's a keeper for sure and going into my recipe box, as my family just plain loves it.