In January of 2008 our family was blessed by a baby boy(he was 3 months old at the time)…no, he was not born into our family, nor was he adopted by our family, but we had the blessed opportunity to begin childcare of him a few days a week while his mommy & daddy worked during the day. This little boy stole our hearts right away, he became a part of our family, and we babysat him until he was old enough to go to preschool this past fall. He still comes for playdates when he is able to, and he loves to play here, and we LOVE to have him play here! Well, there is something about this little guy that you should know, from right around his 2nd birthday he started really getting into pirates. He talks like a pirate, he knows all of the parts of a pirate ship, and he likes to “fight like a pirate”….. SO, to say his little life is very invaded with pirates and all things pirate is an understatement (he does have other interests as well, but pirates are a big part of his playlife). In December of 2010 this precious little boy became a big brother!!! So a few days after his baby sister (who we now watch a few days a week also) we took dinner to his family. We wanted to make it something special for our little friend, so the meal that I made (formerly called Linguine Anna from the book “Once A Month Cookbook”) is now called Pirate Casserole 🙂 Now this recipe is an adaptation of the original which uses evaporated milk and a few other things that I don’t always keep on hand. Here’s MY version of the very loved Pirate Casserole…. 🙂
- 1 package linguine noodles, cooked according to package directions (I use whole wheat)
- 3 slices bacon, cut into small strips
- 1 bunch green onions, sliced
- 8 mushrooms, sliced
- 1-2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tbsp. flour
- 3 cups milk (I use 1% but if you can afford the calories and fat grams, please feel free to use a higher fat content milk)
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (or a parmesan/romano combination)
- 1/2 bag frozen peas, thawed
- 2 cups diced ham pieces
- 1/4 cup bread crumbs
- salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a large sauce pan saute bacon over medium heat until it has released all of it’s fat and is beginning to get crispy. Add enough olive oil to equal (approx.) 3 Tbsp of drippings/fat (the bacon I used was very meaty, didn’t have a lot of fat, so I didn’t even have a Tbsp. of bacon fat). Add mushrooms and green onions and cook until the mushrooms are softened. Stir in flour and let cook for a minute or two. Slowly (1/2 cup at a time) whisk in milk adding more as the first addition begins to thicken up (you will want to increase your heat to medium high while adding the milk). Once all of the milk is incorporated let mixture simmer for a few moments to thicken slightly, it should be the consistency of a thin gravy. Add cheese, remove from heat and whisk until it is completely melted and incorporated into sauce. This will thicken the sauce to a thicker gravy consistency. Season to taste with salt & pepper
In pan that you cooked the pasta in, combine cooked & drained pasta, peas & ham. Then transfer to a 9 x 13″ baking dish. Pour sauce over the pasta and sprinkle with bread crumbs and bake for 15-20 minutes or until bread crumbs are golden brown.
Serve with gold coins (aka carrot slices), and seaweed (aka green salad), and pirate cookies (any type of cookie that your little pirate loves :)).