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Stovetop Mac ‘n Cheese with Ham and Peas
and lemony kale salad

Active: 40 Total: 40

The pasta for this cheesy mac cooks in a smaller amount of liquid than most and isn't drained after cooking. The starchy pasta water transforms into a thick, creamy sauce that is made even more rich with the addition of your favorite cheese. 
Smarts #1: Keep a close eye on the pasta the entire time it cooks and stir frequently to prevent sticking and prevent the liquids from bubbling over. 
Smarts #2: Be sure to use a pasta that has a recommended cook time of 10 minutes. You need the right liquid-to-pasta ratio so that there is enough (but not too much) sauce left in the pan. 

Ingredients

Metric
Servings:
4
Stovetop Mac ‘n Cheese with Ham and Peas:
  • Ham, thick deli-sliced - 4 oz, chopped
  • Cheese, cheddar - 5 oz, grated
  • Peas, frozen - 1 cup
  • Butter - 2 Tbsp
  • Flour, all-purpose - 2 tsp
  • Garlic powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Salt - 1/2 tsp
  • Milk, any type - 1 1/2 cups
  • Water - 2 1/2 cups
  • Pasta, shells or macaroni - 8 oz (look for something with a recommended cook time of 10 minutes)
  • Mustard, Dijon - 1 tsp
  • Hot sauce (opt) - 1/2 tsp
Lemony Baby Kale Salad:
  • Lemon juice - 1 Tbsp
  • Vinegar, red or white wine - 2 tsp
  • Mustard, Dijon - 1 tsp
  • Honey - 1/2 tsp
  • Oil, olive - 3 Tbsp
  • Cucumbers - 4 oz, chopped
  • Baby kale - 6 oz

Nutrition Facts

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Prep

  1. Make vinaigrette - Whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, mustard (portion for salad), and honey. Add olive oil while whisking. Season with some salt and pepper. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)

  2. Ham / Cheese - Prep as directed. Store separately. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)

  3. Cucumbers - Chop cucumbers. (Can be done 1 day ahead)

  4. Peas - Defrost.

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Make

  1. Heat a medium saucepan over low-medium heat. Add butter. When butter melts, whisk in flour, garlic powder, and salt until no dry spots remain. 

  2. Slowly pour in milk while whisking and increase heat to medium-high. Add in water. Bring to a simmer.

  3. As soon as liquids are simmering, add in pasta. Wait until the water begins to simmer again and then set a timer to cook the pasta until tender, 10 minutes. 

  4. As the pasta cooks, stir in mustard (portion for mac 'n cheese) and hot sauce. Stay near the pasta and stir frequently to prevent sticking, especially towards the end of cooking when most of the liquids have cooked off. Reduce the heat a bit at a time so that the liquids are simmering vigorously but not boiling over. 

  5. Remove from heat and add the cheese in several additions, stirring gently after each addition (this will help the sauce to be creamy instead of grainy). (The sauce may still seem a bit thin, but will continue to thicken as it cools.)

  6. Fold in ham and peas.

  7. Just before serving, toss cucumbers and baby kale in vinaigrette until dressed to your liking.

  8. Serve mac ‘n cheese with salad on the side. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts

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Reviews

Ratings

Original (46)
Gluten-free (8)
Paleo (4)
Vegetarian (13)

Most Helpful

This was so good. Used oat milk and slowing mixed in cheese and it came out great. Substituted the ham with cooked bacon pieces, because bacon wins every time.

By: Colleen
Posted: Mar 10, 2022
Diet: Original
2 Helpful

34 reviews

Tasty and super easy! I accidentally burned my garlic powder because I let it sit a few seconds too long before I whisked it all together, so it could have been even better.

By: Ryan
Posted: May 03, 2022
Diet: Original
0 Helpful

Ours turned out great. Slowly added the cheese, stirred constantly. Kids loved it. Omitted the zucchini, sounded odd.

By: Megan
Posted: Apr 15, 2022
Diet: Vegetarian
0 Helpful

Agree with others this still turned out soupy and a little grainy, despite heeding the preventative steps in the instructions.

By: Stacey
Posted: Mar 29, 2022
Diet: Vegetarian
0 Helpful

This was easy and only OK. Next time I would add cheese to the frittata.

By: Namrita
Posted: Mar 25, 2022
Diet: Paleo
0 Helpful

Maybe I screwed it up, but this was a soupy, grainy mess. Way easier to make sauce and pasta separately.

By: Laura
Posted: Mar 24, 2022
Diet: Vegetarian
0 Helpful

For my own reference in the future I used these ingredients but made it differently. I melted the butter and added the flour to make a roux then added the garlic powder and then added milk (1 3/4 for 2 people which is the milk and a little less than the water should have been). I let the milk mixture thicken then added the cheese and then the dijon. Cooked the pasta separately and once that was done added it to the cheese sauce. I had a leftover heel of baguette so I pulsed that in the processors with a tablespoon of butter and broiled in the toaster until brown and added it on top of the mac and cheese at the table. I served the peas and zucchini on the side so people could mix in what they want (or eat it separate).

By: Kristen
Posted: Mar 20, 2022
Diet: Vegetarian
0 Helpful