CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I hope you don't still have a surplus of ham and asparagus lurking in your refrigerator from your traditional spring holiday meal last month.
If that's the case, before proceeding with today's recipe, please check to see if what you have has turned green or brown in ways that shouldn't be.
However, if you are hamless by now and your asparagus has run out of gas, it isn't hard to assemble this casserole for any brunch, potluck or main dish, straight out.
Purchase enough ham from the deli or meat case for the recipe with an eye to a healthy sodium number. I turn to shaved or sliced ham packaged for sandwiches for my casseroles and pizza topping. It's there and ready to go and in smaller ounces than preparing the old spiral-sliced 10-pounder. A couple of name brands sell recipe-ready diced ham in small packages, too.
You can also go to chicken, if you'd rather not even think about ham until Thanksgiving. The recipe calls for canned asparagus, so it isn't necessary to have fresh-cooked.
Choose whole-wheat croutons, if you have that option where regular salad croutons are sold. They have the same seasoned flavor and are good to remember when you want to make a strata (you don't have to stand around cubing sliced bread).
For the white sauce, you may opt for fat-free half and half instead of skim milk. I often use it in recipes that originally call for heavy cream or regular half and half, such as quiche and cream soups.
It's a way to remain on the "good" side of eating while boosting richness that skim milk can seem to lack and eliminates that "canned funny taste" that I think skim evaporated milk has.
Ham and Asparagus Casserole
Makes 6 servings.
1 cup skim milk
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter or Smart Balance spread