My creamy, cheesy cauliflower ham pasta casserole is a family favorite meal that uses up leftover holiday ham in a dish that everyone loves! This easy casserole features tender cauliflower, al dente bow tie pasta, salty ham, a tasty Dijon cheese sauce, and crispy Panko breadcrumbs - talk about comfort food!
This fuss-free ham and cauliflower casserole will give you a new appreciation for holiday leftovers!
After Christmas and Easter I always find myself with a ton of leftover ham on hand. This indulgent ham and cauliflower pasta bake is one of my favorite ways to use it up.
Growing up I remember eating ham sandwiches for a week after every holiday, and I would be so burnt out on ham that I didn't even want to look at it for the rest of the year. Enter this casserole (plus all of my other delicious leftover ham recipes!).
This recipe makes ham even better the second time around. In fact, sometimes I pick up some sliced or diced ham from the store specifically to make this casserole!
It's a family favorite that I just had to share. So, if you're looking for things to make with sliced ham, this should be at the top of your list!
❤️ Why You'll Love This Recipe!
Serves A Crowd! This is a great recipe for large families or if you have family hanging around after the holidays!
Kid Approved! There's something about hiding cauliflower in a pile of cheesy pasta that keeps the kiddos from complaining about eating their veggies!
It's Convenient! Not only is it a great way to use up leftovers, but you can make it ahead of time so it's ready to bake whenever you need it!
If you don't have leftover ham, you can always grab some cooked, sliced ham from the store. The remaining ingredients are pretty standard!
- 12 ounces Cauliflower Florets - Essentially, you'll need a head of cauliflower.
- 1 pound Farfalle Pasta - Also known as bowtie pasta. You can use other short pastas as well, look for a pasta variety that will cup the sauce nicely!
- 3 cups Whole Milk - If you have 2% or skim it will work, but it won't be as rich and creamy.
- 1 cup Chicken Broth - Chicken broth adds great flavor, but if you only have vegetable the recipe will still turn out delicious. I'd try to avoid using beef broth.
- ¼ cup All-Purpose Flour - For thickening the sauce.
- 1 teaspoon Garlic - Roughly 1 clove, minced.
- ¼ teaspoon each Salt & Pepper - More or less, to taste.
- ½ cup Parmesan Cheese - You'll want to grate your own for a cheesy sauce.
- 2 ½ cups cheddar cheese - Set ½ a cup aside to use for the topping at the end.
- 1 cup Ham - Dice up your leftover cooked ham or use store-bought diced ham.
- ¼ cup Panko - Other breadcrumbs will work, but Panko provides the best crunch.
*Be sure to see the recipe card below for ingredients, amounts & instructions!*
🔪 Step-by-Step Instructions
There are a few steps to make this tasty casserole, but none of them are difficult. You can even boil your cauliflower and pasta in the same water!
- Prep. Preheat your oven to 400°F (205°C) and coat a 9x13 baking dish or 2.5-quart casserole dish lightly with oil or non-stick spray.
- Boil cauliflower. Bring 8 cups of salted water to a boil in a large saucepan or stockpot, then add the 12 ounces of cauliflower florets. Cook at a low boil for 4-5 minutes, or until fork-tender. Transfer the cauliflower to your prepared baking dish with a slotted spoon (don't turn off the stovetop).
- Boil pasta. Once the water returns to a boil, add 1 pound of bowtie (farfalle) pasta and cook it until al dente (usually 1-2 minutes less than instructed on the box). Drain and rinse the cooked pasta under cool water. Add it to the cauliflower in your baking dish.
- Make sauce. In a medium saucepan whisk together 3 cups of milk, 1 cup of broth, and ¼ cup all-purpose flour. Then add 1 teaspoon garlic, ¼ teaspoon each salt & pepper, and 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard and whisk until smooth.
- Thicken sauce. Let the mixture thicken over medium-high heat for 6-8 minutes, stirring frequently. *Reduce heat as needed to prevent boiling over.
- Melt cheese. Once the sauce has thickened, remove it from heat. Add ½ a cup of Parmesan cheese and 2 cups (reserving the additional ½ cup) of cheddar. Stir until melted. Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta and cauliflower in your baking dish.
Assemble & Bake
- Add ham. Toss your 1 cup of diced ham into the baking dish with the other ingredients and mix well. Sprinkle ¼ cup of Panko and the remaining ½ cup of cheddar over the top of your assembled casserole.
- Bake. Bake, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes until the sauce is bubbling around the edges and the topping is lightly browned. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.
This casserole is a full meal in itself! It makes 6 hefty servings, or 8 average sized servings. Enjoy!
💭 Angela's Tips & Recipe Notes
- This pasta casserole can be made up to 3 days in advance! Make the recipe as instructed, but don't add the breadcrumbs. Make sure the casserole is cool, then cover and place in the fridge. Add breadcrumbs right before cooking. (Cooled pasta casserole will take longer to get hot, so add 5-10 minutes to cooking time.)
- No ham, no problem! Grilled chicken would be equally delicious in this pasta bake, but you can also make it vegetarian by leaving the meat out altogether.
- It doesn't have to be bowtie pasta. Farfalle is my favorite, but all pasta is delicious and any short pasta will work. Penne, rigatoni, macaroni are all great alternatives. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time according to the package.
- In a hurry? Use frozen cauliflower. You can use the microwavable bags of frozen cauliflower to speed things up!
🥡 Storing & Reheating
Cover the baking dish and keep the casserole in the fridge for up to 3 days.
I do not recommend freezing this casserole. The breadcrumbs and cauliflower will become soggy.
Reheating Cauliflower Ham Pasta Casserole
Pop individual portions in the microwave for 2 minutes or so until warm, or reheat the whole thing in the oven at 350°F (175°C) for 10-15 minutes.
😋 More Tasty Casseroles!
- Doritos Chicken Casserole
- Mexican Cornbread Casserole
- Ham and Potato Casserole
- Zucchini Squash Casserole
- Beef and Cheese Casserole
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Cauliflower Ham Pasta Casserole
- 12 oz cauliflower florets (about 3 ½ cups - a head of cauliflower should yield 3-4 cups)
- 1 lb farfalle bowtie pasta (uncooked)
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 `cup chicken broth
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon garlic (minced)
- ¼ teaspoon each, salt & pepper
- 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
- 2 ½ cups cheddar cheese (grated - reserve ½ cup for topping)
- 1 cup ham (cooked, diced)
- ¼ cup Panko breadcrumbs
- Preheat your oven to 400°F (205°C) and coat a 9x13 baking dish or 2.5 quart casserole dish lightly with oil or non-stick spray.
- In a large saucepan or stockpot bring 8 cups of salted water to a boil, then add the cauliflower florets. Cook at a low boil for 4-5 minutes, or until fork tender. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked cauliflower to the prepared baking dish.12 oz cauliflower florets
- Return the water to a boil and add the bowtie pasta. Cook until al dente (usually 1-2 minutes shy of the package instructions). Drain the pasta and rinse under cool water before mixing with the cauliflower in your baking dish.1 lb farfalle bowtie pasta
- In a saucepan whisk together the milk, broth, and all-purpose flour. Then add the garlic, salt & pepper, and Dijon mustard and whisk until smooth.3 cups whole milk, 1 `cup chicken broth, ¼ cup all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon garlic, ¼ teaspoon each, salt & pepper, 2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- Thicken the milk mixture over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for about 6-8 minutes. *Reduce heat as needed to prevent boiling over.
- Once thickened, remove from heat. Add the Parmesan and cheddar cheese and stir until melted. Pour the mixture over the cooked cauliflower and pasta.½ cup Parmesan cheese, 2 ½ cups cheddar cheese
- Add diced ham to the baking dish and stir, then top with the remaining ½ cup of cheddar and sprinkle with Panko breadcrumbs.1 cup ham, ¼ cup Panko breadcrumbs
- Bake, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes until the sauce is bubbling around the edges and the topping is lightly browned. Remove from the oven and serve.
- This casserole will also taste great with grilled chicken in place of the ham, or make it vegetarian by leaving it out altogether
- This pasta casserole can be made up to 3 days in advance. Follow the recipe all the way up to adding the breadcrumbs, let it cool, then cover and place in the fridge. Add breadcrumbs right before cooking. (Chilled pasta casserole will take slightly longer to heat through, so add 5-10 minutes to cooking time.)
- This makes 6 generous servings, or 8 average servings (perfect for kids).
- If you don't have farfalle pasta you can use penne, macaroni, rigatoni, or whatever you have on hand. Just follow the boxes instructions for al dente.
- You can use microwavable bags of frozen cauliflower to skip a step.
Angela is an at home chef that developed a passion for all things cooking and baking at a young age in her Grandma's kitchen. After many years in the food service industry, she now enjoys sharing all of her family favorite recipes and creating tasty dinner and amazing dessert recipes here at Bake It With Love!