Cold days call for a hearty pasta dish! This Ham & Corn Pasta Bake is cooked in a silky cream sauce and loaded with savory ham & sweet corn.
Happy New Year guys! Sorry for the late greeting. I have been sick since the New Year. Sneezes, runny nose, runny eyes, sinus pressure… I was too tired that I didn’t really cook for a full week. Right now, I am feeling much much better. I have to stay healthy from now on, especially for the coming month, because we will be traveling. I’m so excited!!! I will tell you more about it next week! 🙂
The first thing I wanted to eat after getting better was this exact dish, Ham & Corn Pasta Bake. It was comforting, and it sure reminded me of home (Hong Kong). This dish is something I ate growing up in a Hong Kong style cafe across the street from our apartment. Bubbly hot, cheesy and creamy… No one can say “no” to that!
You may ask, “Why a pasta dish with white cream sauce can be in a Hong Kong style cafe?” Hong Kong was once a British colony. The food is heavily influenced by western countries. Hong Kong style cafe is one of the great examples. It has western style food, like milk tea, spaghetti, and egg tart. But it also has traditional Chinese dishes, like congee, BBQ pork, and fried rice. Hong Kong style cafes are the kind of restaurants that adapt and create many fusion dishes at an affordable price.
This pasta bake is nothing fancy. Just ham, corn, onion, cheese and pasta. But I promise it is very satisfying. The first time I made this dish, I used up some leftover ham from our Christmas dinner (but you can use any ham you want). The savory ham mixed with sweet corn and onion, and then tossed in a rich and creamy béchamel sauce (white sauce). Along with the stringy cheeses and al dente pasta, this dish hit all the right spots. Simple, but hearty. It is a dish that anyone will love! Enjoy!
Ham & Corn Pasta Bake
- 8 ounces long pasta (like fusilli, rotini, gemelli & cavatappi)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ medium onion (finely diced)
- ¾ cup frozen corn
- 1 cup cooked thick-cut ham (about 1/8-inch thick) (cut into 1-inch x ½-inch strips)
Béchamel Sauce (White sauce):
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- ¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 3 thin slices provolone cheese
- Preheat the oven to 450˚F (230˚C).
- Bring a large pot of water (salted) to a boil over high heat. Cook the pasta until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Drain and rinse the pasta with water until cool.
- Meanwhile, in a medium sauté pan over medium-low heat, warm up 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add onion and sauté until soften. Add the frozen corn and ham until warmed through.
- For the sauce, in a medium pot over medium-low heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add the flour and whisk for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk. Cook for 5 minutes, whisking occasionally to prevent sticking on the bottom. Reduce heat to low. Whisk in mozzarella and stir until fully incorporated. Add a pinch of ground nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the cooked ham mixture. Adjust with seasoning if needed. If the mixture is too thick, thin it out with a bit of the reserved pasta water.
- Transfer the pasta to an oven safe baking dish, top with the provolone cheese. Bake in the oven for about 5 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven. Allow the pasta to sit for 5 minutes before serving. Serve hot.
- For the ham, you can use the ones from a box (thick cut) or get a few slices from the butcher. Both will work.
- Oven step is not a must; you can skip it if you want. The main reason for using the oven is to melt the cheese.