Ham, Spinach, and Pasta Gratin

January 8th, 2015

Ham, Spinach and Pasta Gratin 2

If you have leftover ham from the holidays, this is a perfect way to use it.  This lovely layered dish gives “casserole” a good name.  Pasta, Gruyere cheese, minced ham and chopped spinach are bound together in an eggy custard and topped with rye bread crumbs.  I made this on a cold dreary afternoon at the lake.  Photographing it was a real problem, so what you see was snapped the next day in the slanting light on our porch.  The good news is that this dish can be reheated and still tastes as good as the first time.

Ham Spinach and Pasta Gratin 1V

A cold front is headed to Lake Lure and we are looking forward to lighting a fire in the kitchen fireplace and cooking something in the coals.  David has a fascination with hearth cookery.  We have an adjustable fireplace grill that just fits into our fire box and a cast iron spider pot with legs.  The pot sits in the coals and is perfect for cooking stews and roasts.Lake Lure Fireplace

David has accomplished a lot this week.  Because the lake level has been lowered, he was able to shore up the sea wall and reinforce the boat house supports.

I had a wonderful lunch with my dear blogging friend Penny of The Comforts of Home.  We met in Hendersonville, ate brick oven pizza, and shopped on Main Street. It was chilly but sunny. The frigid temperatures remind me of winters in Michigan where I grew up.  As nostalgic as it is, I have to say that I am looking forward to returning to Florida soon.

Ham Spinach and Pasta Gratin 3 close

We enjoyed this casserole which I adapted from a recipe in Gourmet Magazine from 1993.  Every time I return to the lake, I peruse my collection of magazines dating back to 1968.  I wonder if any of them are now collector’s items?  The one thing I know for sure is that any recipe from Gourmet is a winner.


1/2 pound fusilli or other dried pasta
2 1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese (about 1/2 pound)
1 pound cooked ham, chopped fine (preferably in a food processor, about 3 cups)
1 onion, chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach, cooked, drained, and squeezed dry
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, or to taste
5 large eggs
3 cups milk
1 1/4 cups fresh rye bread crumbs

In a pot of salted boiling water boil the pasta until it is al dente, drain it well, and spread it in a greased 2-quart flameproof shallow baking dish.  Sprinkle the pasta with 1/2 cups of the Gruyere, top the Gruyere with the ham, spreading it evenly, and sprinkle the ham with 1 cup of the remaining Gruyere.  In a heavy skillet cook the onion and the garlic in the butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until the onion is softened, add the spinach, the nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste, and cook the mixture over moderate heat, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the excess liquid is evaporated.  Top the ham layer with the spinach mixture.

In a bowl whisk together the eggs, the milk, and salt and pepper to taste, pour the custard slowly over the spinach mixture, and bake the gratin, covered with foil, in the middle of a preheated 400 degree oven for 50 minutes, or until the custard is set.  Discard the foil, in a small bowl toss together the remaining 1 cup Gruyere and the bread crumbs, and sprinkle the topping evenly over the custard.  Broil the grain under a preheated broiler about 4 inches from the heat for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the bread crumbs are golden brown.  Serves 6 to 8.

Printable Recipe

9 responses to “Ham, Spinach, and Pasta Gratin”

  1. Larry says:

    This dish looks super good Penny and I love your fireplace. All you need now is a nice little six inch snow to make it beautiful around the lake. I have to admit, the 44* temps here in South Florida feels much better than the 6* at home must feel.

  2. Penny @ The Comforts of Home says:

    I really enjoyed my day with you Penny! Your casserole looks so good. I can’t believe how cold it is here. Wish I was heading back to Florida with you!

  3. Your casserole looks perfect for our chilly & windy weather (yes, even in south Florida, but I guarantee it is warmer than NC) and I love the fact that when reheated, it tastes just as good. Great way to make-over left-over ham.

    Glad David was able to accomplish a lot while you were home. Shoring up is important and it’s nice that they lower the levels to make life easier. Your kitchen fireplace is so nice and it looks just like Patricia Well’s fireplace at Chanteduc in Provence, including the pretty chairs you have alongside. You have a real flair for decorating and I personally would enjoy more decorating tips and ideas from you in the new year.

  4. Katie Zeller says:

    I love the fireplace – but it seems so strange to see a raised hearth. They’re all right on the floor here. Love the casserole – I have another ham in the freezer so this is going on my list. I have to special order hams as they are not ‘French’. LOL

  5. Catherine says:

    This certainly does look delicious!! I bet some of those mags are collectibles. I love the older recipes they are full of flavor; no skimping!!
    The fireplace looks so nice and so beautiful to cook on.
    Enjoy every moment.
    Happy New Year! xo Catherine

  6. Susan says:

    I am in love with your hearth, Penny! My daughter and SIL were just talking about steaks they’ve cooked over coals in the fire just like this that were wonderful. What a great way to use leftover ham. I haven’t made a ham in way too long. I need to treat ourselves during this cold snap 🙂

  7. Monique says:

    How inviting is that dish..and that fireplace/wood oven..Lucky you!
    A client of mine from many many moons ago lives in Hendersonville..I know by the return address on her past Christmas cards:)

  8. This wonderful casserole is exactly the reason I cooked an extra large ham at Christmas. I love the leftovers and am always looking for new recipes. Those old Gourmet’s are worth their weight in gold. Some of my favorite recipes come from 1960’s and ’70’s issues.

  9. Libby Wilkie says:

    This looks oh so perfect! I love that dish too: really unique. Now, did you really get the napkins to go with it? Sure looks that way! Anyway, thanks and I’ll be trying this later in the week….when the cold and ice come back.

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