Orzo Mac N’ Cheese with Ham and Zucchini

This is somewhat adapted from a Gourmet magazine recipe that I did years ago as part of a giant family Thanksgiving that I hosted and cooked for. I worked from memory and didn’t look up the recipe. I believe the recipe may have even been called “Grown-Up Mac ‘N Cheese,” or made reference to it being such.

It made enough to fill up two casserole dishes that will feed 4-5 depending on appetites. Which is perfect because I am trying to stock my freezer right now to be ready for baby #3.

Orzo Mac ‘N Cheese with Ham and Zucchini

Ingredients
• 1 package orzo pasta
• 1 large zucchini
• 1 boneless ham steak
• handful of shredded Mozzarella
• handful of shredded Monterey Jack
• handful of shredded cheddar
• dollop of sour cream based ranch dip (I make my own using sour cream and the herbs and spices I actually recognize from the back of a ranch packet/bottle/etc. It’s the only way I can be sure we aren’t eating some weird corn derivative or another random chemical I don’t recognize. Even the “natural” brands of ranch at Whole Foods have this. Grrr!)
• 1 tablespoon of butter
• 4-5 green onions

Preheat oven to 350.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook orzo according to package directions. You want al dente because it is going to cook more in the oven.

While pasta is cooking, dice your zucchini, ham, and green onions.

Drain pasta and transfer to a large bowl. Stir in all ingredients until well incorporated, reserving a little of the cheese.

Transfer to casserole dish(es) and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake 30 minutes or until slightly browned at the edges.

Remove and serve.

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Notes:

* If you want to go veggie, the ham is certainly optional. You may need to add a little salt in place of the salty ham.
* You could probably also add in other diced veg. I am thinking a red bell pepper would have been nice (and a good way to use up one of the three giant ones I got in our CSA box today) or peas or corn. The original recipe only had ham and green onions and three different fancy cheeses. So I wasn’t being terribly creative by just adding in the zucchini.
* You could also just use one kind of cheese, I happened to have those three in my fridge so that’s what I used.
*This is great with a salad.
*I am sure with the sour cream based ranch, butter and cheese this is full of tons of calories. I don’t worry about those things. If you do, you might want to consider substitutes. Or not eat food like this every night of the week.

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