Creamy pasta bake with beetroot & smoked ham

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

 375g dried pasta shapes, e.g. conchiglie, fusilli or penne
1 onion, finely chopped
50g unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tbsp plain flour
450ml milk
150ml double cream (or use extra milk for a less rich option)
150g gruyere or mature cheddar, grated
200g piece smoked ham, torn into shreds
Small bunch chives, snipped
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
500g cooked beetroot (2 packs), cut into 1cm cubes

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

2. Cook pasta according to packet instructions. Drain and reserve.

3. Set a heavy based saucepan over a low heat, sweat the onion in the butter for 10-15 minutes until it starts to soften. Add the garlic and fry for a further minute before stirring through the flour.

4. Pour in milk and cream, and bring up to the boil, stirring constantly until thickened. Simmer steadily for 2-3 minutes to cook the flour.

5. Turn out the heat, stir through half the cheese, the ham and chives. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

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