Sunday, March 4, 2012

Ham, Pasta, & Asparagus Casserole


In the winter time, I get on a casserole kick! I love making them and eating them because they're such comfort foods for me. Hubby and I will watch racing on TV for the weekends enjoying a plate of whatever I have on hand in the frig. That's another reason I love casseroles because you can mix just anything together and bake them and in under an hour, you've got a meal! I can also get more veggies in us because casseroles are so filling. For this recipe, I got my greens, I got the meat part for hubby, got the pasta, and the cheese tops it off!
Of course if you want to go completely vegetarian, don't add the ham. Instead maybe add another veggie that you like. And believe me, I'll have some veggie casseroles coming up really soon.

If you guys have been following me for awhile, you'll know about my journey to become "A Healthier Me", and since I made up my mind to become healthier I've been reading more about certain vegetables and their health qualities. So for this recipe, I looked up some facts about asparagus. It was surprising to learn how healthy this vegetable is and you know I didn't grow up eating it. My mom loved veggies too so I'm curious as to why she never served it...I can't remember but maybe she didn't like it...oh well... 

About Asparagus:
  • Asparagus is a member of the Lily family. Its spears grow from a crown that is planted about a foot deep in sandy soils. Under ideal conditions, an asparagus spear can grow 10" in a 24-hour period.
  • Each crown will send spears up for about 6-7 weeks during the spring and early summer.
  • The outdoor temperature determines how much time will be between each picking...early in the season, there may be 4-5 days between pickings and as the days and nights get warmer, a particular field may have to be picked every 24 hours. After harvesting is done the spears grow into ferns, which produce red berries and the food and nutrients necessary for a healthy and productive crop the next season.
  • An asparagus planting is usually not harvested for the first 3 years after the crowns are planted allowing the crown to develop a strong fibrous root system. A well cared for asparagus planting will generally produce for about 15 years without being replanted.
  • The larger the diameter, the better the quality! Asparagus is a nutrient-dense food which in high in Folic Acid and is a good source of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamins A and C, and thiamin. Asparagus has No Fat, contains No Cholesterol and is low in Sodium. - taken from asparagus.org.
If you're not eating asparagus a lot, maybe this dish will encourage you to add it to your diet more often and so now here's how easy it is to make this casserole!

Ingredients:

1 pkg. pasta or elbow macaroni
2 c. diced cooked ham
1 lb. asparagus OR 1 (9 oz.) pkg. frozen
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 c. milk
1-1/2 c. shredded Cheddar cheese
3 hard-boiled eggs
1/2 c. sliced mushrooms
1/4 c. sliced green onions
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
Dash of lemon pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook macaroni according to instructions on package; drain. Cook asparagus until tender; drain. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces. Combine soup and milk in large mixing bowl. 

Stir in 1 cup cheese, eggs, mushrooms, and onion. Stir in macaroni, ham, and asparagus. Put in casserole pan and bake 40-45 minutes. Remove from oven. Add remaining cheese on top and return to oven until cheese melts for about 5 minutes. Serve with bread or put a spoonful of casserole on top of the bread and eat it! YUMMMMM!

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