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Shells with Five Cheeses, Ham and Tomato

Mac and cheese is a perennial favorite, but especially so in the colder months. I’ve engineered this to be a one pan meal which will save lots of time on the cleanup. Even though you will grate some cheese in the process it’s so worth it. There’s just nothing like a hot cheesy, hammy dinner with only one pan to clean up.

It’s that easy: You can buy all these cheeses grated except for the Fontina. You can also change out a few of these cheeses for something you already have in your fridge. Other cheeses to try are Gruyère, Swiss, cheddar, Manchego, Parmesan or goat cheese.

Shells with Five Cheeses, Ham and Tomato
Shells with Five Cheeses, Ham and Tomato
Total time:


  • 1/2 teaspoon salt plus 1 teaspoon
  • 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano
  • 1/2 cup shredded Fontina
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/2 cup ricotta
  • One 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup half and half
  • 1 branch rosemary, leaves stripped and chopped
  • 2 cups diced ham
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 oz small or medium pasta shells


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F
  2. Heat 2 quarts water in a 12-inch skillet over medium high heat to a boil.
  3. Combine the Pecorino, Fontina, mozzarella, blue cheese, ricotta and tomatoes in a large bowl. Stir in the half and half, rosemary and ham along with a few grinds of pepper and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  4. When the water boils, add 1 teaspoon salt along with the pasta and cook at a low boil for about 8 minutes. The pasta won’t be completely tender but will soften as it bakes in the oven. Drain the pasta and return it to the pan. Stir in the cheese mixture completely and bake the mac and cheese in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbling.
  5. Serve the mac and cheese on heated plates and eat it fast before it gets cold.

In the glass: You could go either way here so for a white I’d choose a Pinot Gris from Indaba or if you’re flying in red mode, a Pinot Noir from Meiomi is one of my favorite bottles.

Carla Snyder in her kitchen
By Carla Snyder
Carla has spent the past 30 years in the food world as a caterer, artisan baker, cooking school teacher, food writer and author of 6 cook books including the James Beard nominated Big Book of Appetizers. Her passion is sharing fresh, cooked-from-scratch weeknight meals that cut prep time and practically eliminate that nightly sink full of dishes.

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