If you’re looking for something cheesy and creamy to cook that’s still nutritious and delicious, then you should definitely check out my creamy ham pepper casserole recipe. You can kill several birds (not included in the recipe) with one stone.
While most casseroles use potatoes, pasta, rice, or some other calorie-ridden starch, this one uses nutrient-rich and calorie-dense cauliflower. This veggie is one of the most underrated around. It has just 1.6 grams of total fat and 146 calories in the entire head. Meanwhile, that head offers you a staggering 472 percent of daily value of vitamin C, 55 percent of your vitamin B6, and 48 percent of your daily dietary fiber. Yes, cauliflower rocks!
You’ll also be taking advantage of key ingredients, like almond milk and light cream cheese, to keep the saturated fat to a minimum. Two tablespoons of light cream cheese, for example, has 70 calories and 5 grams of fat, which is half of regular cream cheese.
Life hack alert! Don’t make the mistake of going fat-free in all your recipes and ingredients. Why? In most cases, fat-free versions have to replace the fat with something to avoid a flavorless, lifeless mess. Sadly, that something is usually preservatives that are less healthy than if you just opted for a lesser portion or low-fat version that keeps a little fat. Remember, fat isn’t your enemy; too much fat is your enemy.
Here’s another interesting life hack. Most of us use parmesan cheese as a topper for everything from breads to pastas, right? Feta isn’t as fine in terms of a powdery consistency, but it can be crumbled pretty finely. The hack is that it has less fat and calories and more vitamins, and it has a creamier, richer flavor than parm in my humble opinion.
You’ve bought a fine, gigantic ham. You’ve ate it hot. You’ve ate it cold. You’ve made sandwiches and roll-ups. You look, and you still have a lot of ham left. You feel like a Dr. Seuss book. What to do? We’ve all been there. This recipe is the perfect solution to avoid wasting all that leftover ham…. without eating another boring carb-loaded sandwich.
We could chit-chat all day, but you’re likely anxious to see how this ham recipe plays out. Let’s get to cooking.
Quick Recipe Facts
- Serves six
- Difficulty is on the super easy scale
- Ready in under an hour
- Less than 300 calories per serving
- Uses 10 easy to find ingredients and some optionals for seasoning
- 2-3 cup of diced ham
- 6 cups of fresh cauliflower florets
- 1/2 cup of tricolor peppers
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup softened light cream cheese
- 1/2 cup half-and-half
- 1/4 cup almond milk
- 4 tbsp crumbled feta (divided in half)
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 2 tsp of flour
Optional Seasoning Ingredients
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- Garlic powder to taste
- Onion powder to taste
- Sprinkle of paprika on the top of casserole for coloring
Directions For Ham Casserole
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Complete any prep work. Dice your ham slices into bite-sized cubes. You can brown them with oil on a skillet. You can also add smokiness by searing them on a grill or having them cooked in a charcoal smoker. Remove florets from your cauliflower head. Slice your tricolor peppers – cubes, strips, chunks. Don’t forget to wash all your veggies. If you bought a block of feta, you’ll need to crumble it into chunks. If you bought a block of cheddar, then you’ll need to grate it.
- Lightly coat the bottom and sides of a 9×9 casserole dish with olive oil. Sprinkle flour evenly over the bottom of the casserole dish. Tilt and shake for an even coat. This step helps avoid your casserole from sticking to the bottom. The flour is also a thickening agent that will meld into the creamy mixture for a richer taste and sauce.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. (Add seasoning to the water if you’d like.) Add your cauliflower, cooking until fork tender. You’ll want to add your tricolor peppers for the last three-five minutes of cooking time to tenderize. If you like softer peppers, you can add at the same time as your cauliflower.
- Strain cauliflower and peppers and set aside.
- Use that warm pot that your cauliflower was in to whisk your half-and-half, light cream cheese, and almond milk. Make sure it’s not over any heat source. The residual warmth just helps soften cream cheese for mix-ability. Whisk until smooth.
- Add cauliflower and peppers to the light cream cheese mixture. Gently toss to coat. You want your cauliflower to remain chunky.
- Add in ham, 2 tbsp feta, shredded cheddar, and any seasonings you choose. Gently toss to incorporate.
- Transfer mixture to your prepared baking dish. Make sure that you don’t stir it once it’s transferred and disturb the bottom coating of oil and flour.
- Sprinkle remaining 2 tbsp feta over the top of casserole. Sprinkle with paprika for coloring if you’d like.
- Bake uncovered for around 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and top is golden brown.
- Serve your creamy hot ham casserole.
Final Food For Thought Tip
You likely noticed that step two is your main time-consumer in this recipe. While our health and well-being dictates that we should stay clear of processed foods, that doesn’t mean that you can’t take advantage of foods that are pre-prepped.
Buying cheddar, feta, and peppers, for example, that’s already been shredded/diced and bagged doesn’t change the nutritional components. The price per weight may be slightly higher, but it saves a lot of time without changing your ingredients.
And, you may not be paying more when you factor in waste. Some ingredients, like the cauliflower, may be cheaper if you buy loose florets in the exact amount you need verses the entire head. The same with a smaller packages of cheese verses big blocks.
Using the above, you can easily cut the timing of this recipe down to under 45 minutes, which makes it great for weeknight meals.
Are You Ready To Make Your Creamy Ham Pepper Casserole Recipe?
In 12 simple steps and with 10 ingredients you likely already have in your home, including that leftover ham, you have a creamy ham casserole recipe that’s equal parts delicious, nutritious, and thrifty. Plus, you’ve spent less than an hour whipping it up. Now, that’s brilliant cooking.