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Derby Sage Mac and Cheese with Ham

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 10 min
  • Prep: 15 min
  • Cook: 55 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
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Ingredients

Salt

1 pound cavatappi hollow pasta curls or penne rigate or macaroni with lines

4 tablespoons butter

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 shallots, finely chopped

Freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons flour

3 cups milk

12 ounces crumbled Sage Derby (green-veined sage-scented Cheddar)

12 ounces baked or boiled ham, 1/4-inch thick sliced, and chopped

One 10- to 12-ounce package frozen chopped organic spinach, defrosted and wrung dry

1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Directions

  1. Heat a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt the boiling water and cook the pasta just shy of al dente, 5 to 6 minutes. 
  2. Meanwhile, heat a deep skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Melt the butter and when it foams, add the garlic and shallots, then season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle in the flour, whisk for 1 minute. Then whisk in the milk and thicken the sauce to coat the back of a spoon. Melt in the Sage Derby cheese, then add the ham. Separate the spinach as you stir it into sauce as well. Toss the pasta with the sauce, and pour into a casserole dish, top with the Parm. Cool and reserve for a make-ahead meal. 
  3. To serve, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake from room temp until brown and bubbly, 35 to 45 minutes.