Christmas Leftovers = Ham Stuffed Manicotti

The week between Christmas and New Year’s is filled with bargain hunting at after-Christmas sales, gift exchanges and returns, parties – and leftovers! Most of us have turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, roast beef, or cranberry sauce sitting in the refrigerator, covered with foil and plastic wrap. And lots of candy canes on the tree.

This week I will be posting some delicious recipe ideas using the remains of your Christmas feast to make wonderful meals and treats. They are, of course, good enough to serve to company. But also treat your family to a warm, comforting meal on one of the cold and crisp days after Christmas.

This fabulous casserole has the most wonderful flavor. It freezes really well too, so make a couple of batches this holiday season.

Ingredients:

  • 14 manicotti pasta shells
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup butter or olive oil
  • 1-2 cups cooked cubed ham
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 6 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
  • 6 Tbsp. flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation:

Cook manicotti as directed on package. Drain, rinse in cool water and set aside. Meanwhile, cook onion, garlic, and green bell pepper in 4 Tbsp. butter or olive oil until tender. Add ham and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Stir in 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese.

In another heavy saucepan, cook 6 Tbsp. butter or olive oil until foamy. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture bubbles, about 3 minutes. Add milk, and cook, whisking constantly, until sauce thickens. Stir in cheese. Mix 1/4 of cheese sauce with ham mixture.

Fill manicotti shells with ham mixture (your fingers work best for this; it’s messy, but most efficient). Spread about 1/2 cup cheese sauce in greased 13×9″ glass baking dish and arrange filled shells over sauce. If there is any leftover stuffing, just sprinkle it over the filled shells. Pour remaining cheese sauce over filled manicotti. At this point the casserole can be cooled in the refrigerator, then wrapped and frozen up to 3 months. To thaw and reheat, thaw casserole overnight in refrigerator, then uncover, sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and bake at 350 degrees F for 40-50 minutes. If not freezing casserole, sprinkle with 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until bubbly.

Serves 8

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