This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
Leftover Ham and Cheese Penne – incredibly creamy and cheesy penne loaded with ham and peas. What better way to transform that leftover holiday dinner ham?
As the holidays wrap up I find myself asking the age old question: what do I do with all these leftovers? Well this year I have the answer, and the answer is ham and cheese. It’s a combination that’s been around as long as humans have had taste buds and is the perfect way to clear up some space in that fridge.
With the help of some perfect al dente penne, fresh crisp green peas, and an obscene amount of cheese, we will welcome spring with open arms and full bellies! Although don’t let the word spring deter you, this dish is perfect year round! Don’t believe me? Test it out.
Get Creative With Your Leftovers
Why do we just think that leftovers are for microwaving on a plate and imagining we’re eating something a little fresher as we munch away? This dish will redefine the way you view leftovers, they will soon be a source of inspiration rather than something that takes up space in your fridge!
This is a recipe with an ingredient list that will taker you longer to read than it will to make. With the help of that already cooked ham, you’re half way there before you even begin! Now let’s get into it shall we:
- Penne – You can use any pasta you happen to have in your cupboard for this recipe, preferably small types like farfalle, rotini, shells, etc.
- Butter & olive oil – Olive oil has a higher smoke point than butter so melting that butter down with a bit of olive oil in the pot will give you all that brown butter flavour with none of the burnt butter bitterness.
- Onion – A small one will do, look for something that mellows out as it cooks like a yellow or white onion.
- Ham – Fully cooked and chopped.
- Chicken broth – For flavour and to help create a saucier dish.
- Heavy cream – A cup of this will create a thicker sauce that gives the ridges in the penne something to hold onto.
- Salt & pepper – Season to taste, be sure to adjust according to the sodium content of your broth.
- Mozzarella & cheddar cheese – We want to use some nice melty cheeses here, the addition of cheddar adds a nice sharpness.
- Peas – I recommend using frozen as the pea will stay crisp and bright when it meets the hot pasta.
- Parsley – Did you know that herbs are superfoods? Packed full of vitamins and folic acid, parsley is so much more than just a garnish.
- Parmesan cheese – This last cheesy addition should be sprinkled on top just before serving.
What Else Can I Add
Some nice sautéed mushrooms or zucchini can be used in place of peas. If you are looking to make this dish into a pasta bake, sautéed eggplant pairs quite nicely with ham and will add a nice chew to the dish.
Speaking of pasta bakes, this dish can easily be popped into a casserole dish, topped with parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs, and baked for 30 mins at 350 F degrees. If you want something nice and saucy however just stick with the original as the pasta will absorb more of that sauce in the oven, making it dry up a bit. Totally delish either way.
How To Make Leftover Ham And Cheese Penne
- Cook the pasta: Al dente according to package instructions. Set aside.
- Sauté the onion: Melt the butter down in some olive oil over medium high heat. Add the chopped onion and let cook for 5 minutes till it softens.
- Cook the ham: While the ham is already cooked, you’ll still want to add it to the pot at this point for 8 minutes to allow it to brown.
- Create the sauce: Add the chicken broth first, followed by the cream to prevent the cream from scalding. Season with salt and pepper to taste before stirring in your mozzarella and cheddar cheese. Cook for 3 minutes more while stirring.
- Finish the ham and cheese penne: Add your cooked pasta and frozen peas, allow to cook further for a few more minutes while stirring before garnishing with minced parsley and parmesan cheese.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. If freezing allow the dish to cool fully in a shallow container before placing in the freezer.
Other Great Leftover Dishes To Try:
- Leftover Ham and Cheese Breakfast Muffins
- Leftover Ham And Bean Soup
- Olive Ham and Cheese Loaf
- Leftover Turkey Noodle Soup
- Ham and Cheese Pockets
- Leftover Pistachio Pesto Turkey Sandwich
- Leftover Turkey Shepherd’s Pie
- Hawaiian Ham and Cheese Stromboli
- 1 pound penne (uncooked)
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion (chopped)
- 2 cups ham (cooked, chopped)
- 1 cup chicken broth (low sodium)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
- 1 cup Mozzarella cheese (shredded)
- 1 cup cheddar cheese (shredded)
- 3/4 cup frozen peas
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley (chopped)
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (grated (optional))
- Cook the penne al-dente according to package instructions.
- In a large pot, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and saute for about 5 minutes until the onion softens.
- Add the ham to the pot and cook for about 8 minutes until the ham starts to brown slightly.
- Stir in the chicken broth and heavy cream, then season with salt and pepper. Add the cheeses and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring, until the cheese melts.
- Add the pasta, peas, stir and cook for a couple more minutes.
- Garnish with parsley and Parmesan cheese.
- You can use any type of pasta that you have in your cupboard. Preferably small types like farfalle, shells, rotini, etc.
- Use milk or 10% cream instead of heavy cream if you’d like to cut down on calories.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. If freezing allow the dish to cool fully in a shallow container before placing in the freezer.
- Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used.
Notice: Nutrition is auto-calculated for your convenience. Where relevant, we recommend using your own nutrition calculations.