Trying to spend less and feed a family of nine can be an almost impossible task. I try to fill our meals with inexpensive but filling dishes, and pasta is certainly that.
I came across this recipe in The Great American Brand Name Cookbook Collector's Edition. This is my favorite cookbook, not only because it was a gift to me from my mother, but because everything I have ever made from it has been declared tasty.
This dish was not an exception. It was tasty and pleasantly odoriferous. It was also a luscious feast for the eyes.
I modified the original recipe, Wisconsin Swiss Linguine Tart, to make it practical for what I had in the pantry and fridge as well as make it more of an all-in-one dish. I renamed it Ham and Pasta Tart. Basically I did not use linguine and added ham, and since I lacked fresh tomatoes I used diced canned tomatoes. I also omitted the salt since I was using ham, which is already salty for my taste. Following is the modified recipe.
Ham and Pasta Tart
1/2 c. butter, divided
1 tsp. minced garlic, more to taste
1 thin loaf of French bread, sliced in 1/4-1/2" pieces
3 tbsp. flour
fresh ground pepper, to taste
2 1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese, plus an extra tbsp. or so
2 eggs, beaten
8 oz. cooked pasta (I used Bucanti, a thick hallow spaghetti like noodle)
1 c. Swiss cheese, diced
3 green onions, sliced
1 tbsp. oregano
1 1/2 c. diced ham
1/2 c. diced tomatoes
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place 2 tbsp. of butter in pie dish and place in oven until butter is melted. Sprinkle the pan with minced garlic.
2. Line the bottom and sides of the pie plate with French bread slices, overlapping the pieces which line the sides. Like this:
3. Microwave 2 tbsp. of butter in a microwave dish for 20 seconds. Drizzle over bread. Bake the buttery bread in the preheated oven for 5 minutes or until it becomes lightly browned. When done, lower oven temperature to 350.
4. Melt the remaining butter in a medium saucepan. Using a whisk, stir in flour. Slowly stir in milk while stirring with the whisk. Cook, continuing to whisk, until thickened.
5. Add some fresh ground pepper and the grated Parmesan cheese. Stir.
6. Add a bit of the sauce, about 1/2 cup, to the beaten eggs. Whisk, then pour the egg mixture into the rest of the sauce and whisk together. Set to the side for now.
7. Combine the pasta, Swiss cheese, about 1/2 of the sliced green onions, oregano and diced ham in a bowl. Pour sauce into bowl and toss to coat. Fill the tart crust with the pasta mixture.
8. Sprinkle the pasta with the diced tomatoes. Bake the tart at 350 for 25 minutes.
9. Remove tart from oven and sprinkle the tomatoes with a bit of Parmesan cheese and the remaining green onion slices. Grab a fork and enjoy! No need for a plate.
I served this with one of our favorite salads: spinach leaves, cucumber pieces, goat cheese and craisins. While making the tart, I had prepared the whole bag of pasta, 16 oz., and tossed it with olive oil and sea salt; my younger children do not much care for their pasta to be mixed with anything. They enjoyed the pasta and ham separate.
A last note: As I opened the oven door and captured the terrific scent of Swiss and Parmesan cheeses mixed with green onions and buttered toast, I knew this dish would also be excellent if made with crab or shrimp. Yumilicious!