Easy Cheesy Ham Casserole

Ham Casserole is one of those yummy cheesy dishes that just scream home-cooked comfort. This casserole is made with ham and pasta tossed in a creamy cheesy sauce (much like a mac and cheese)!

This is a great dish to make that leftover ham stretch to satisfy a crowd.

Close up of the baked ham casserole with a spoon taking a scoop out of the corner.

What Goes in Ham Casserole

Cheesy ham casserole combines diced ham, with tender pasta in a creamy homemade cheese sauce. With 3 types of cheese (cheddar, gruyere and parmesan cheeses) this is a tasty dish!

A little thyme and Dijon add a savory lift to this leftover ham casserole .

Finally, a topping of buttered Panko bread crumbs with cheese provides some welcome crunch-appeal.

Close up of the cheese sauce being poured over the ham and pasta in a white casserole dish.

Substitute to your heart’s content with the cheeses and pasta! Any kind of pasta will work for ham noodle casserole. Shells are my favorite, they cup and hold the cheese sauce, and are melt-in-your-mouth tender! I also find cheddar cheese is always great for melting into a sauce, but you can use any pasta or cheese you have on hand for this dish!

  • Pasta: rotini, penne, macaroni or even spaghetti.
  • Cheese: colby, asiago, swiss or muenster would be delicious!

How to Cook Ham Casserole

Homemade Cheese Sauce is easy to make and creates great flavor for this casserole. The sauce for this recipe starts with a roux.

Pre-shredded cheese can have starches added to keep it from clumping so it may not melt as well. For this sauce, it’s best to shred your own cheese.

Overview of the ham,pasta and cheese sauce mixture in a white casserole dish with the remaining toppings on the side.

Prep & Bake

  1. Melt butter in a large pot. Whisk in flour and cook for about a minute (per recipe below). Slowly whisking in the milk and to thicken. Add cheese until creamy.
  2. Combine cheese sauce, ham and pasta in a casserole dish.
  3. Top with crumb topping.

Bake until bubbly and the top is browned and crisp.

Creamy cheesy ham and noodle casserole with a bread crumb topping

What to Serve With Ham Casserole

Ham and cheese casserole is creamy stick-to-your-ribs rich with salt from the ham and cheese. Look for a side dish that is light, fresh and sweet or tangy. A fresh fruit salad, fresh tomato salad or cucumber dill salad would be welcome companions for ham casserole.

More Cheesy Pasta

Ham Casserole

This easy cheesy ham casserole is the perfect way to use up your leftover ham and stretch it to feed a crowd!

  • 1 lb medium shells
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 1 cup light cream (10-12% M.F.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon thyme
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 3 cups sharp cheddar (divided)
  • 1 cup gruyere cheese
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups diced ham

Topping

  • 2 tablespoons butter (melted)
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix together topping ingredients, set aside.
  2. Cook shells al dente according to package directions. Drain well.
  3. Meanwhile, melt butter, flour and seasonings in a saucepan. Allow to cook 1 minute.
  4. Slowly add in cream and milk while whisking after each addition. The mixture will seem thick at first but will smooth out with each addition.
  5. Once all of the cream/milk is added, whisk while bringing to a boil over medium heat. Allow to boil 1 minute.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in 2 1/2 cups cheddar, gruyere cheese and parmesan until smooth.
  7. Mix cheese sauce with cooked pasta and ham and place in a 9×13 pan. Add topping and remaining 1/2 cup of cheese.
  8. Bake 22-26 minutes or until heated through and topping is browned. Cool 5 minutes before serving.

 

This ham casserole is made with pasta, 3 types of cheese, and a crunchy bread crumb topping! It's a great dish when looking for a way to stretch your leftover ham to feed a crowd. #spendwithpennies #hamcasserole #maindish #pasta #kidfriendly #budgetfriendly #leftoverham
This ham casserole is made with pasta, 3 types of cheese, and a crunchy bread crumb topping! It's a great dish when looking for a way to stretch your leftover ham to feed a crowd. #spendwithpennies #hamcasserole #maindish #pasta #kidfriendly #budgetfriendly #leftoverham

One Pot Pasta with Chicken (Tomato Cream Sauce)

Chicken Pasta dishes can be ready in no time at all and this easy one pot recipe goes straight from the stove to the table in less than 30 minutes. An flavorful combination of chicken, cheese, and tomatoes in a tomato cream sauce all made with just one pot! 

While a full meal on its own, this pasta dish tastes delicious served with a side of homemade garlic bread or a light side salad.

Close up of one pot chicken pasta.

What’s in Chicken Pasta?

This dish is full of creamy cheeses, chicken, and a combination of savory flavors like garlic, tomatoes and Italian seasoning…all blended together for this hearty entrée that even makes great leftovers!

This easy recipe has a tomato cream sauce and is topped with cheese for an easy meal.

How to Make This One Pot Pasta

This recipe is super easy and versatile, with just one pot! Using the basic recipe, you can add your favorite flavors to make it your own!  

  1. Cook the chicken and set aside.
  2. Add seasoning (per recipe below), tomatoes and cream. Stir in uncooked pasta and simmer until pasta is tender.
  3. Add cheese and enjoy!

It’s that easy!! The pasta is cooked right in the sauce meaning no extra pots or strainers for cooking. Depending on the brand of pasta you have, you may need to add a bit more broth or water towards the end to cook the pasta. Add about 1/2 cup at a time as needed.

Overview of one pot chicken pasta.

Can You Make This in Advance?

One pot chicken pasta can definitely be made in advance, just keep it in a covered container and then pour it all into a skillet and reheat on low on the stovetop.

When you reheat it you may need to add a splash of milk or cream if the pasta has soaked up a lot of the sauce.

More One-Pot Meals

One Pot Chicken Pasta

If you’re looking for something simple to put together in just a few minutes, you’re going to LOVE this! Super easy and versatile, with just one pot!

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound chicken breast (diced into 1/2" cubes)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 cup onion (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley
  • 14.5 oz diced tomatoes (drained)
  • 3 cups chicken broth (+ 1/2 cup extra if needed)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 12 oz penne (or medium pasta)
  • 2/3 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup parmesan (divided)
  1. Season chicken with salt & pepper. Heat olive oil over medium heat and cook chicken until no pink remains. Set aside.

  2. Add onion and garlic to the pan. Cook until onion is tender, about 3 minutes.

  3. Add seasoning, parsley, 3 cups broth, tomatoes and cream and bring to a boil. Add pasta. Let simmer for about 15 minutes or until tender and thickened. If you need, add 1/2 cup broth till pasta is cooked. Mix in 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.

  4. Add the chicken back to skillet, top with mozzarella cheese and remaining 1/4 cup parmesan, then broil 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden.

Overview of One Pot Chicken Pasta.
Overview of One Pot Chicken Pasta.
Top image - overview of one pot chicken pasta, bottom image - chicken pasta ingredients in a pot.

Cajun Chicken Pasta

This creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta is a simple and flavorful homemade ready in under 30 minutes.  Made with chicken breast, pasta, and plenty of fresh, colorful veggies with Cajun Seasoning is an easy meal!

This Cajun Chicken Pasta recipe is one of my family’s favorite meals all-year ’round.

Cajun Chicken Pasta on a white plate

Easy Chicken Pasta

This pasta dish has a creamy cajun sauce that coats every bite.

Pasta for Cajun Chicken: 8 oz of your favorite medium pasta is perfect in this recipe, I like to make mine using Penne pasta (like Chili’s Cajun Chicken Pasta penne dish). Linguine is another a popular option to make this Cajun Chicken Pasta tasty! You can also substitute whole grain or whole wheat pasta for added nutritional value!

Cajun Chicken Pasta in a blue skillet

How to Make Cajun Chicken Pasta

My favorite part about this Cajun chicken pasta dish is that it’s easy to make.

  1. Cook pasta according to package instructions and set aside.
  2. Season chicken, cook through, and remove to a plate to rest.
  3. Cook veggies and add sauce ingredients. Cook until the sauce reduces and thickens.
  4. Add cheese, return chicken to the pan, and add pasta.

To Prep Chicken: I prefer to cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces before cooking so the chicken has a lot of great flavor (as more surface area is covered with seasoning than if you seasoned/cooked the whole breast).

You could alternatively season and cook the chicken breasts whole, keep them removed from the pan after cooking, and then mix all of the other ingredients together and serve the chicken over your cooked pasta.

What should I serve with Cajun Chicken Pasta?

We often eat this creamy Cajun Chicken recipe without anything on the side, it’s a great stand alone meal. However, this time of year we also enjoy it with lighter side dishes including Caesar Salad, Corn on the Cob, or Corn Salad.

Jalapeno Cornbread will also make for a good, heartier, side! And will help scoop up any Cajun chicken  sauce left in your bowl too!

A blue skillet full of cajun chicken pasta

Can I make Cajun Chicken Pasta in Advance?

If you don’t wish to serve this dish right away, you can make it in advance to serve later, and in fact the flavors will develop even more as it sits!

Keep in mind that the pasta will absorb a lot of the sauce, so your dish will be less creamy if you make it in advance and store all the ingredients together.

Another alternative would be to prepare everything except for the pasta, and then to cook the pasta fresh when you are ready to serve and add it to your other ingredients after re-heating them.

Keep your Cajun Chicken Pasta refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to enjoy.

More Chicken Pasta:

What is Cajun Seasoning Made of?

I have the perfect homemade cajun seasoning recipe! It’s a great option to use in this Cajun spice or seasoning contains tasty spices such as garlic powder, onion powder, seasoning salt, oregano, and thyme.

To give it its world famous kick, my Cajun seasoning contains chili flakes, black pepper, and cayenne pepper, and smoky paprika!

Cajun Chicken Pasta

This creamy Cajun Chicken Pasta is a simple but incredibly flavorful homemade dinner that can be on the table in under 30 minutes.  

  • 8 oz penne pasta (cooked according to package instructions and drained)
  • 3 Tablespoons butter (divided)
  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast (cut into 1" pieces)
  • 4 teaspoons Cajun seasoning (divided)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (divided)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper (divided)
  • 1/2 yellow onion (diced)
  • 1 red pepper (sliced)
  • 1 green pepper (sliced)
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup fresh parmesan cheese
  1. Place 2 Tablespoons of butter in a large pan over medium-high heat until melted.
  2. Meanwhile, combine 3 teaspoons Cajun seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a Ziploc bag. Add chopped chicken, zip closed, and shake until chicken is coated.
  3. Transfer chicken to heated pan and cook until chicken is browned and just cooked through. Remove to a plate and set aside.
  4. Add remaining Tablespoon of butter to pan and allow it to melt.
  5. Add peppers and onion and cook until beginning to soften (about 3-5 minutes).
  6. Add heavy cream, smoked paprika, basil, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon cajun seasoning and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, cooking until sauce is thickened.

  7. Add parmesan cheese and stir until melted. Return cooked chicken and add cooked pasta, stir well and serve.

REPIN this Easy Pasta Recipe

Cajun Chicken Pasta served on a white plate

More Recipes You’ll Love

Slow Cooker Cajun Bean Turkey Soup Recipe

a ladle of Cajun Bean Turkey Soup in the crockpot

Skillet Orange Chicken Recipe

orange chicken in white skillet

 

Grilled Brussel Sprouts – chewy, nutty and sweet!

Grilled Brussel Sprouts are full of flavor and a delicious veggie side dish to try out at your next barbecue feast. The slight charring that the grill leaves enhances the flavor of the sprouts.

They hold up well to grilling and are great with a sprinkle of parmesan and cracked pepper. Serve these alongside grilled salmon or a grilled chicken breast.

Grilled brussels sprouts on skewers.

How to Grill Brussel Sprouts

You’ll love how simple this brussel sprout recipe is to prepare. For best results, use fresh brussels sprouts, not frozen. The texture is firmer and the flavor is better too!

If using wooden skewers, start by soaking them for at least 30 minutes before grilling. This will ensure the skewers don’t burn up on the grill.

Brussels sprouts on wooden skewers ready to grill.

  1. Pull off any yellowed leaves, trim any long stems off, and slice each sprout in half if they’re large. For smaller sprouts, you can leave them whole.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil and partially cook the sprouts. Drain well.
  3. When cool enough to handle, thread onto skewers, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

When draining the sprouts, place cut side down on paper towels or a kitchen towel to absorb most of the water.

Two imahes showing brussels sprouts on skewers being seasoned and then grilled.

How Long to Grill Brussel Sprouts

Cooking parboiled brussel sprouts on the grill is fast! It only takes about 5 minutes or so per side on a hot grill.

Other Ways to Grill Brussel Sprouts

There are other methods for cooking brussel sprouts on the grill or in the oven.

  • Whole Grilled Brussel Sprouts – After cleaning the sprouts, place them in a microwave dish and cook on high for 3 minutes. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. When cooled enough to handle, thread on metal or wooden skewers with the stem side facing down, and place on grill for 10 – 12 minutes, turning frequently until soft
  • Foil-Wrapped Brussel Sprouts – Place partially cooked, oiled, and seasoned brussel sprouts in a foil pack. Seal it tightly and place on grill for 15 minutes, flipping several times while cooking.
  • Oven Grilled Brussel Sprouts – Place partially cooked, oiled, and seasoned brussel sprouts on skewers. Broil until tender and caramelized, turning once or twice. If using halved sprouts, broil for 7 minutes, or 10 – 15 minutes for whole sprouts, turning more frequently.

Grilled brussel sprouts taste great sprinkled with shredded cheese, crumbled bacon, garlic powder, balsamic or wine vinegar, or tossed with a little Dijon mustard.

Grilled brussels sprouts in a bowl

Can You Freeze Brussel Sprouts?

Leftover grilled sprouts can be frozen for up to three months but will get somewhat mushy when thawed.

They will also keep in the refrigerator for 3 days. I prefer to heat them low and slow in a frying pan with a touch of olive oil.

Grill Those Veggies!

Grilled Brussel Sprouts

  • 1 lb brussels sprouts (halved if large)
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh parmesan
  1. Soak 6 wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes or more. Preheat grill to medium heat.

  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add brussels sprouts and cook for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.

  3. Place flat side down on paper towel to drain completely.

  4. Thread onto skewers, brush with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

  5. Place on hot grill and cook for 5-7 minutes per side until cooked.

Grilled brussel sprouts skewers are a healthy side dish to serve. With just 3 ingredients: brussels sprouts, olive oil, and parmesan, this recipe is easy to make as well! Just coat in the olive oil and parmesan mixture and toss on the BBQ until crispy and slightly charred! #spendwithpennies #grilledbrusselssprouts #brusselsprouts #grilledvegetables #sidedish
Grilled brussel sprouts skewers are a healthy side dish to serve. With just 3 ingredients: brussels sprouts, olive oil, and parmesan, this recipe is easy to make as well! Just coat in the olive oil and parmesan mixture and toss on the BBQ until crispy and slightly charred! #spendwithpennies #grilledbrusselssprouts #brusselsprouts #grilledvegetables #sidedish
Grilled brussel sprouts skewers are a healthy side dish to serve. With just 3 ingredients: brussels sprouts, olive oil, and parmesan, this recipe is easy to make as well! Just coat in the olive oil and parmesan mixture and toss on the BBQ until crispy and slightly charred! #spendwithpennies #grilledbrusselssprouts #brusselsprouts #grilledvegetables #sidedish

Grilled Brussel Sprouts – chewy, nutty and sweet!

Grilled Brussel Sprouts are full of flavor and a delicious veggie side dish to try out at your next barbecue feast. The slight charring that the grill leaves enhances the flavor of the sprouts.

They hold up well to grilling and are great with a sprinkle of parmesan and cracked pepper. Serve these alongside grilled salmon or a grilled chicken breast.

Grilled brussels sprouts on skewers.

How to Grill Brussel Sprouts

You’ll love how simple this brussel sprout recipe is to prepare. For best results, use fresh brussels sprouts, not frozen. The texture is firmer and the flavor is better too!

If using wooden skewers, start by soaking them for at least 30 minutes before grilling. This will ensure the skewers don’t burn up on the grill.

Brussels sprouts on wooden skewers ready to grill.

  1. Pull off any yellowed leaves, trim any long stems off, and slice each sprout in half if they’re large. For smaller sprouts, you can leave them whole.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil and partially cook the sprouts. Drain well.
  3. When cool enough to handle, thread onto skewers, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

When draining the sprouts, place cut side down on paper towels or a kitchen towel to absorb most of the water.

Two imahes showing brussels sprouts on skewers being seasoned and then grilled.

How Long to Grill Brussel Sprouts

Cooking parboiled brussel sprouts on the grill is fast! It only takes about 5 minutes or so per side on a hot grill.

Other Ways to Grill Brussel Sprouts

There are other methods for cooking brussel sprouts on the grill or in the oven.

  • Whole Grilled Brussel Sprouts – After cleaning the sprouts, place them in a microwave dish and cook on high for 3 minutes. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. When cooled enough to handle, thread on metal or wooden skewers with the stem side facing down, and place on grill for 10 – 12 minutes, turning frequently until soft
  • Foil-Wrapped Brussel Sprouts – Place partially cooked, oiled, and seasoned brussel sprouts in a foil pack. Seal it tightly and place on grill for 15 minutes, flipping several times while cooking.
  • Oven Grilled Brussel Sprouts – Place partially cooked, oiled, and seasoned brussel sprouts on skewers. Broil until tender and caramelized, turning once or twice. If using halved sprouts, broil for 7 minutes, or 10 – 15 minutes for whole sprouts, turning more frequently.

Grilled brussel sprouts taste great sprinkled with shredded cheese, crumbled bacon, garlic powder, balsamic or wine vinegar, or tossed with a little Dijon mustard.

Grilled brussels sprouts in a bowl

Can You Freeze Brussel Sprouts?

Leftover grilled sprouts can be frozen for up to three months but will get somewhat mushy when thawed.

They will also keep in the refrigerator for 3 days. I prefer to heat them low and slow in a frying pan with a touch of olive oil.

Grill Those Veggies!

Grilled Brussel Sprouts

  • 1 lb brussels sprouts (halved if large)
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup fresh parmesan
  1. Soak 6 wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes or more. Preheat grill to medium heat.

  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add brussels sprouts and cook for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.

  3. Place flat side down on paper towel to drain completely.

  4. Thread onto skewers, brush with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

  5. Place on hot grill and cook for 5-7 minutes per side until cooked.

Grilled brussel sprouts skewers are a healthy side dish to serve. With just 3 ingredients: brussels sprouts, olive oil, and parmesan, this recipe is easy to make as well! Just coat in the olive oil and parmesan mixture and toss on the BBQ until crispy and slightly charred! #spendwithpennies #grilledbrusselssprouts #brusselsprouts #grilledvegetables #sidedish
Grilled brussel sprouts skewers are a healthy side dish to serve. With just 3 ingredients: brussels sprouts, olive oil, and parmesan, this recipe is easy to make as well! Just coat in the olive oil and parmesan mixture and toss on the BBQ until crispy and slightly charred! #spendwithpennies #grilledbrusselssprouts #brusselsprouts #grilledvegetables #sidedish
Grilled brussel sprouts skewers are a healthy side dish to serve. With just 3 ingredients: brussels sprouts, olive oil, and parmesan, this recipe is easy to make as well! Just coat in the olive oil and parmesan mixture and toss on the BBQ until crispy and slightly charred! #spendwithpennies #grilledbrusselssprouts #brusselsprouts #grilledvegetables #sidedish

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad – Seriously Good!

chicken caesar pasta salad

Caesar Pasta Salad is the perfect dish for summer. Tender pasta noodles tossed with traditional Caesar Salad ingredients in a creamy garlic lemon dressing this meal is both flavorful and filling.

Adding grilled chicken breast turns this dish into a full meal and is perfect served alongside a slice of Homemade Garlic Bread!

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad is the perfect dish for summer. Loaded with traditional Caesar Salad ingredients in a creamy garlic lemon dressing this meal is both flavorful and filling. I love that can be made ahead of time and served on the hottest of days, offering relief from the heat of the oven!

I love that can be made ahead of time and served on the hottest of days, offering relief from the heat of the oven!

Caesar Salad Lovers

If you like a homemade Caesar Salad, you are going to love this Caesar Pasta Salad recipe. It combines all of the delicious flavors of a classic Caesar salad with pasta to make a perfect summer meal!

Caesar salad dressing has to be one of my all time favorites, rich and creamy with a distinct lemon and garlic flavor. I highly suggest making the homemade dressing for this recipe, it’s both quick and delicious.

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad has a blend of traditional Caesar Salad ingredients in a delicious homemade creamy garlic lemon dressing. This meal is both flavorful and filling. I love that can be made ahead of time and served on the hottest of days, offering relief from the heat of the oven!

The Secret Ingredient

Well, I guess it’s not really secret… but Caesar salad dressing typically has anchovies in it and they really do add an amazing dimension of flavor to this dressing!

I personally don’t eat much that has a really strong fish flavor but using anchovy paste adds so much umami to this recipe (I don’t use tons so it’s not super fishy) that I never leave it out.

You can certainly replace anchovies with blended capers if you don’t want to use it but it’s worth trying at least once. Using a paste instead of chopped anchovy fillets makes a smoother dressing and I prefer it without little chunks so I generally use the paste but if you happen to have filets on hand, definitely use those!

If you’re really in a time crunch you can most certainly sub in your favorite bottled Caesar salad dressing; either way, this Caesar pasta salad is unforgettably good!

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad features my favorite Caesar Salad ingredients in a delicious homemade dressing. Loaded with lemon, garlic and parmesan, this meal is both  flavorful and filling.

Tips for Caesar Pasta Salad

  • As with all pasta recipes, be sure to salt your pasta water.
  • Any medium pasta shape will work in this recipe.
  • You can use grilled chicken, rotisserie chicken or leftover chicken to make this recipe quick.
  • To make this meal a side dish, leave out the chicken.
  • Homemade dressing is best but you can certainly substitute your favorite bottled caesar salad dressing if you prefer.
  • Bacon or real bacon bits will both work perfectly in this recipe.  Skip the imitation bacon, it will get soggy.

Homemade Herb Croutons is both easy and delish! I whip up a batch and store them for use over the next couple of weeks.

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad is favorite summer pasta salad recipe. Caesar Salad ingredients combined with pasta in a delicious homemade dressing. Loaded with lemon, garlic and parmesan, this meal is both  flavorful and filling.

Parmesan for Caesar Pasta Salad

Caesar Pasta Salad tastes best when using fresh parmesan cheese; you can use a powdered version if that is what you have, but the flavor of fresh parmesan really takes this recipe to the next level of yum! While real fresh parmesan cheese can be a bit pricey, it lasts forever in the fridge and it just a little bit goes a long way since the flavor is intense.

While we do serve this as a summer main dish, you can certainly make it into the perfect potluck side dish by skipping the chicken. I do prefer to toss this pasta salad with dressing right before serving for maximum freshness, but surprisingly the lettuce holds up really well in this salad and if we have leftovers we enjoy it for lunch for a couple of days!

More Perfect Pasta Salads

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

Loaded with the traditional Caesar Salad flavors in a creamy garlic lemon dressing this meal is both flavorful and filling.

  • 3/4 lb penne (or other medium pasta)
  • 2-3 chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • seasoning to taste (I love cajun seasoning)
  • 6 cups romaine lettuce (chopped)
  • 1 cup croutons
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 6 slices bacon (cooked and crumbled)
  • lemon wedges for serving

DRESSING

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons anchovy paste
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3-4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • salt & fresh black pepper to taste
  1. Combine all dressing ingredients in a large bowl. Refrigerate.
  2. Cook pasta al dente according to package directions. Run under cold water and drain well.
  3. Season chicken breasts with olive oil and seasoning to taste. Grill over medium heat 4-5 minutes per side or until juices run clear. (165 degrees). Rest until cooled.
  4. Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with desired amount of dressing.
  5. Serve immediately.

 

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad is the perfect dish for summer. Loaded with traditional Caesar Salad ingredients in a creamy garlic lemon dressing this meal is both flavorful and filling. I love that can be made ahead of time and served on the hottest of days, offering relief from the heat of the oven! #spendwithpennies #easychickenrecipe #casesardressing #easydressing #easydinners #easymeals
Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad is the perfect dish for summer. Loaded with traditional Caesar Salad ingredients in a creamy garlic lemon dressing this meal is both flavorful and filling. I love that can be made ahead of time and served on the hottest of days, offering relief from the heat of the oven! #spendwithpennies #easychickenrecipe #casesardressing #easydressing #easydinners #easymeals
Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad is the perfect dish for summer. Loaded with traditional Caesar Salad ingredients in a creamy garlic lemon dressing this meal is both flavorful and filling. I love that can be made ahead of time and served on the hottest of days, offering relief from the heat of the oven! #spendwithpennies #easychickenrecipe #casesardressing #easydressing #easydinners #easymeals

Easy Grilled Asparagus (with parmesan)

bbq asparagus with parmesan cheese

Grilled Asparagus is a summer treat, perfect alongside any steak, BBQ chicken or Grilled Pork Chops!  This easy recipe elevates a traditional grilled asparagus by adding a touch of parmesan cheese and a squeeze of grilled fresh lemon.

Easy enough for an everyday meal and amazing enough to wow your guests!grilled asparagus with parmesan cheese

Tender Grilled Asparagus

Asparagus is definitely one of my all time favorite vegetables.  It’s a summertime treat and perfectly grilled until tender crisp, steamed with a touch of butter (or even a runny yolked egg on top) and makes any meal seem just a little bit fancy!

I’m a huge fan of grilling veggies in the summer from grilled zucchini to mixed grilled vegetables!  I love the fact that I don’t have to turn the oven on and even more so, I love the flavor you get from grilling pretty much anything!

Add Extra Flavor

Asparagus is so delicious on it’s own with just a touch of salt and pepper!  When putting the asparagus on the grill, I also slice a lemon in half and add it to the grill too!  This adds a very slightly smoky flavor to the lemon but more importantly, it mellows out the acidity.

The results are a deliciously tangy lemon flavor that’s just slightly less acidic… the perfect compliment to squeeze over this grilled asparagus. While I grill these directly on my barbecue grate, you can certainly place them on a grill pan or tray if you prefer.

Grilled Asparagus with parmesan cheese on white plate

Tips for Cooking Asparagus on the Grill

Grilled asparagus is easy but here are a few of my favorite tips for this recipe:

  • When buying asparagus want to choose bright green stalks with tightly closed tips.
  • Store asparagus in a bag in the refrigerator with the ends wrapped in damp paper towel to keep it fresh longer.
  • When preparing asparagus, hold the bottom end with one hand and the middle of the stalk with the other end and snap off the bottom.  The asparagus will naturally break where the woody section starts on the bottom, discard the bottom portion.
  • Thicker asparagus is easier to grill to tender crisp than thinner asparagus however thinner spears are more tender.
  • To get a little bit of char without overcooking the asparagus, medium-high heat is best.

grilled asparagus with parmesan and a lemon slice being squeezed

Because this takes only minutes to prepare, I usually take my steaks off to rest for a few minutes and then put the asparagus on.  Have the parmesan cheese shredded and ready to go so you can sprinkle it on the asparagus as soon as it comes off the grill, this lets it melt slightly.

More Grilled Side Dishes

Lemon Parmesan Grilled Asparagus

Grilled Asparagus is a summer treat, perfect along side any steak or barbecued chicken dish! This easy recipe elevates a traditional grilled asparagus by adding a touch of parmesan cheese and a squeeze of grilled fresh lemon… easy enough for an everyday meal and amazing enough to wow your guests!

  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 lemon (halved)
  • 3-4 tablespoons fresh grated parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat grill to medium high.

  2. Wash asparagus and break off the ends. Toss with olive oil & seasonings.
  3. Place lemon halves (cut side down) and asparagus on the grill 6-8 minutes turning half way.

  4. Remove lemon & asparagus from grill and immediately top with parmesan cheese.  Squeeze grilled lemon over top and serve warm.

 

 

Grilled Asparagus is a summer treat, perfect along side any steak or barbecued chicken dish!  This easy recipe elevates a traditional grilled asparagus by adding a touch of parmesan cheese and a squeeze of grilled fresh lemon... easy enough for an everyday meal and amazing enough to wow your guests!
Grilled Asparagus is a summer treat, perfect along side any steak or barbecued chicken dish!  This easy recipe elevates a traditional grilled asparagus by adding a touch of parmesan cheese and a squeeze of grilled fresh lemon... easy enough for an everyday meal and amazing enough to wow your guests!

Parmesan Cheese Guide

Parmesan cheese is a delicious and distinctively flavored cheese. The salty taste pairs wonderfully with the sweet, acidic flavor of tomato sauce, which is why it is so often used in Italian cooking.

Though we tend to associate it with pasta, parmesan is much more than simply a topping for spaghetti and meatballs. It can be used in a wide variety of ways, can be found in many forms, and does have specific storage needs. Let’s take a minute to cover some basic information about this tasty cheese.

Shredded parmesan cheese on a cutting board

What Is The Difference Between Shredded and Grated Parmesan

Grated parmesan is probably what you are must accustomed to seeing and using. It is grated into a fine, almost powdery, consistency and is often used on pastas. This is also the same parmesan cheese you would see in a pizza parlour to sprinkle on your favorite pizza recipe!

Shredded parmesan is, well, shredded into thin strands. Since parmesan is such a strong hard cheese, we generally use a finer shred. It is a great garnish to Tomato Soup and of course Caesar Salad and adds a distinctive “bite” of pungent flavor and a kick of salt.

How to Choose Parmesan Cheese

Age – As parmesan ages, its fragrance and internal consistency change. Older cheeses have a creamier quality that many experts prefer. Check the pin-dot writing on the side of the wheel to ensure that it is not covered by oblique lines.

Those lines indicate that it is not actually qualified as parmigiano reggiano. If it doesn’t qualify, it has not been aged the necessary 12 months. Aging should range from 18 to 24 months for the best flavor.

Color – The cheese should be the color of straw. It can be a pale beige all the way to a deeper yellow. Color should always be uniform throughout the cheese.

How to Store Parmesan Cheese

Parmesan cheese needs to be stored in a dry place. Slices, shreds or grated cheese that has been vacuum-packed or sealed can be stored in the refrigerator for a period of a few months (I use a Foodsaver vacuum sealer for absolutely everything). If it is NOT vacuum packed, then be sure to allow the cheese to breathe by loosely wrapping the cheese before storing it in the refrigerator. I buy cheese storage bags for more expensive cheeses (like real fresh parmesan) as they seem to keep it fresher longer and cheese is not cheap!

How Long Does Parmesan Cheese Last?

Does Parmesan Cheese Go Bad? Yes, but not as quickly as standard cheese. Unopened parmesan cheese will last from 7 to 9 months in the fridge. Once opened, parmesan cheese will last for about a month.

Shredded parmesan cheese doesn’t last as long as a brick or wheel of it. The package should have a ‘use by’ label to let you know how long it lasts – about 5-7 days after being opened.

So, there you have it! A quick tutorial on an amazing and popular cheese! Now go make a delicious Italian dinner – like shrimp scampi or one pot pasta!

Our Favorite Parmesan Cheese Recipes

 

REPIN this Easy Guide

Parmesan Cheese Shredded on a wooden board

This guide to parmesan cheese will teach you about shredded and grated parmigano, how to store it, how long parmesan cheese lasts, and how to choose a wheel or brick of parmesan cheese! #spendwithpennies #parmesancheese #cheese #parmigano #parm
This guide to parmesan cheese will teach you about shredded and grated parmigano, how to store it, how long parmesan cheese lasts, and how to choose a wheel or brick of parmesan cheese! #spendwithpennies #parmesancheese #cheese #parmigano #parm

Crispy Baked Eggplant

Crispy Baked Eggplant is a yummy snack or appetizer (and it’s great baked into our favorite Eggplant Parmesan). Tender slices of eggplant are coated in an easy seasoned breadcrumb/parmesan mixture and baked to crispy perfection!

Serve these as a side dish next to Oven Baked Chicken Breasts or alongside your favorite appetizer recipes!

Dipping baked eggplant slices into a bowl of marinara sauce

Breaded and baked eggplant slices are creamy soft on the inside and crispy on the outside, and adapt well to a variety of baked eggplant recipes and can even replace noodles in your favorite Easy Homemade Lasagna recipe! We love Meatball Subs and often made eggplant parmesan sub sandwiches using these slices in place of the meatballs!

 

How to Prepare Eggplant

Wash the eggplant and cut off both ends. There is no need to peel the eggplant in this recipe as it bakes up perfectly tender. Slice the eggplant into 1/4″ (or slightly thicker if you’d prefer) slices.

To Salt Eggplant or not to salt… this is the question! I like to salt the eggplant for this recipe as it draws out moisture (and some bitterness) making for a crispy exterior. Generously sprinkle both sides of the slices and allow to sweat for 30 minutes. The eggplant will sweat out some of the moisture.

You’ll want to give the eggplant a quick rinse to remove some of the salt but be sure to be quick so it doesn’t soak up moisture. Immediately dab them dry with a paper towel.

Salted eggplant slices on paper towels for making baked eggplant

How to Bake Eggplant

Eggplant is an easy vegetable to make and tastes great. Once cooked, the texture can become similar to a soft baked zucchini. The secret to transforming this mild tasting veggie into a savory and substantial dish is all in the prepping. To make crispy baked eggplant that your family will love:

  1. Dredge the slices by coating each one first in flour, then egg, and then breadcrumbs.
  2. Place the slices on a cookie sheet and spritz with a little bit of olive oil.
  3. Bake until soft on the inside and crispy brown on the outside.

Once baked we love to dip baked eggplant in warm Marinara Sauce or even leftover Spaghetti Sauce.

A baking pan of crispy baked eggplant topped with parsley

How Long to Bake Eggplant

Since these are thin slices of eggplant they only need about 10 minutes in a hot oven. A whole, roasted eggplant, which you would use for baba ganoush, can take much longer.

If you slice your eggplant a bit thicker, it may need a little bit of extra time to become tender.

To Freeze Baked Eggplant: You can freeze the slices for up to three or four months. Just pack them in zip lock freezer bags and remove as few or as many as you need for a quick lunch or dinner for one or two.

Try These Tasty Italian Favorites:

Baked Eggplant

Baked eggplant is a great side dish or adapts well to a variety of other baked eggplant recipes! 

  • 1.5-2 lbs eggplant (sliced 1/4 inch)
  • salt
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups Italian bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese (shredded)
  • 1 lemon (use only the zest of 1 lemon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil (fresh)
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Prepare two baking pans with parchment paper and set aside.

  2. Slice eggplant about 1/4 inch thick. Place on paper towel lined baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Allow to sit for 30 minutes.

  3. Whisk eggs together in a shallow bowl. In a second shallow bowl, add the flour. In a third bowl combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan, lemon zest, garlic powder and basil. Set all three bowls aside.

  4. After the eggplant has sat for 30 minutes, rinse well under cold running water well and pat dry.

  5. Dredge each slice of eggplant first in the flour, then into the egg, and finally in the breadcrumb mixture. Place each slice of eggplant on prepared parchment lined pans.

  6. Bake for 5 minutes, then flip and bake for 5 minutes more or until golden brown.

REPIN this Delicious Recipe

A slice of eggplant being dipped in marinara sauce.

These baked eggplant slices are delicious! Each slice is dredged in flour, egg, breadcrumbs and  some Italian spices and parmesan! It is baked to a perfectly soft yet crispy texture, my family can't get enough! #spendwithpennies #bakedeggplant #meatlessmonday #meatlessmeal #sidedish #italiancuisine
These baked eggplant slices are delicious! Each slice is dredged in flour, egg, breadcrumbs and  some Italian spices and parmesan! It is baked to a perfectly soft yet crispy texture, my family can't get enough! #spendwithpennies #bakedeggplant #meatlessmonday #meatlessmeal #sidedish #italiancuisine

Homemade Croutons

Homemade Croutons can go on nearly anything, and everyone loves them!  Just the perfect size, flavor, and crunch, this easy garlic crouton recipe will make your mouth water and the kitchen smell great!

These homemade croutons are the perfect addition to an Italian salad and caesar salad or great to top a creamy soup (like our favorite Butternut Squash Soup).

A baking sheet with homemade croutons on it fresh from the oven.

What Are Croutons?

In an era where nothing goes to waste (doesn’t that still apply today?), croutons were made from the very last slices of bread, cut into cubes, seasoned and then baked to a crispy perfection.

Whether you are making croutons for salad or croutons for soup, pop open a can of biscuits and take the easy way out on a busy day!

Homemade crouton ingredients on a working surface like bread cubes, parsley, and onion powder.

What To Add To Croutons

Croutons are versatile, and the recipe can be changed to fit whatever you’re adding them to. Some of my favorite additions include:

  • Bread:  Sourdough, leftover rolls, stale bread
  • Dried Seasonings: Rosemary, Dried basil, Italian seasoning
  • Fresh Seasonings: Lemon zest, fresh herbs & parsley
  • Cheeses: Parmesan, cheddar

How to Make Croutons

Croutons are as easy as 1,2,3 to make and they keep well in the pantry for up to a month! To make these delicious crunchy morsels:

  1. Dice: Dice the bread into cubes and place in a bowl. You can use any kind of bread here, even leftover french bread or sliced breads will work!
  2. Toss: Toss with melted butter, seasonings and parmesan cheese.
  3. Bake: Bake until golden.

Serve on a tossed salad, greek salad, or your favorite soup or stew recipes!

Bread pieces covered in parmesan cheese and butter ready to be baked into homemade croutons

Dried Croutons will last on the counter for about a week. If you’re keeping these longer, you can freeze homemade croutons. No need to defrost first, they can be added directly to your favorite dishes and salads!

More Recipes You’ll Love

Homemade Croutons

Homemade croutons can go on nearly anything, and everyone loves them!  Just the perfect size, flavor, and crunch these are a great addition to any soup or salad.

  • 12-14 slices bread
  • 1/3 cup butter (melted)
  • 2 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
  1. Cut bread into 3/4" cubes and place in a large bowl (or freezer bag).

  2. Pour the melted butter evenly over the bread cubes

  3. Gently toss with seasonings and cheese.
  4. Bake at 350 for approximately 10 minutes, checking frequently to make sure they aren’t getting too dark.
  5. Remove and cool when they are lightly golden brown.
  6. Serve on top of a salad, soup or in a bowl as a snack!

For a lighter version, spray bread cubes with cooking spray in place of melted butter.

 

We love making these easy homemade croutons from bread at home. They're the perfect addition to salads, or a delicious snack! #spendwithpennies #croutons #homemadecroutons #bread #saladcroutons #easycroutons #parmesancroutons
We love making these easy homemade croutons from bread at home. They're the perfect addition to salads, or a delicious snack! #spendwithpennies #croutons #homemadecroutons #bread #saladcroutons #easycroutons #parmesancroutons