Nutmeg is an essential spice for the white sauce. That said, it is easy to overdo it. Start with a small amount, ¼ teaspoon, and add more if needed.
- 12 ounces fusilli pasta
- Salt for pasta water
- 4 Tbsp butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced,
- 4 Tbsp flour
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (more to taste)
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper (more to taste)
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (or a mix of dried oregano, thyme, and basil)
- 3/4 teaspoons salt (more to taste)
- 3 ounces (about 1 cup, packed) shredded or grated Parmesan cheese
- 4 ounces (about 1 cup, packed) shredded Mozzarella cheese
- 10 ounces diced ham (about 2 cups)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh green onion greens or chives
1 Make pasta: Put a big pot of salted water onto boil on high heat for the pasta (4 quarts, 2 Tbsp salt). While the pasta water is heating, prep the other ingredients.
Once the water has reached a rolling boil, add the pasta and stir so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Let the water return to a rolling boil and cook, uncovered, for 9 to 10 minutes, until the pasta is “al dente”, cooked through but still slightly firm to the bite.
2 Make roux: Melt the butter in a large (3 to 4 quart), thick-bottomed pot on medium heat. Add the minced garlic. Let the garlic sizzle for a few seconds. Add the flour and whisk so that any lumps are dissolved. Let the roux (flour and butter) bubble and cook for a minute or two.
3 Make the sauce: Slowly add the milk and cream, a quarter cup at a time, whisking until incorporated after each addition. Increase the heat to medium high. Add ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg and ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper. (You may want to increase these later to taste.) Add ½ teaspoon of Italian seasoning.
Add half of the shredded Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, whisking until melted and incorporated into the sauce.
Add 3/4 teaspoon of salt (again, you may want to increase this to taste).
Stir in 1 cup of water (can use pasta cooking water if you want).
4 Preheat oven to 400°F.
5 Combine pasta with sauce, ham, parsley, onion greens: Drain the cooked pasta and add it to the sauce. Add the ham. Add the chopped parsley and onion greens or chives. Gently stir to combine. Taste, and add more nutmeg, salt, pepper, or Italian seasoning to taste.
6 Bake: Transfer the pasta mixture to an oven-proof casserole dish (if you are using a Dutch oven to make the sauce, there is no need to transfer to another dish). Sprinkle the top with the remaining cheese. Bake in the oven at 400°F for 10 to 15 minutes until the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned on top.