Sweet potato macaroni cheese (#53)

Macaroni cheese is boring. There, I said it. I love cheese, I love pasta. But, both of them are sublime carriers of, or additions to, so many other wonderful flavours. Just having a big bowl of it, even for the cheese-obsessed pasta-crazed human that I am, seems a tad dull for dinner. Then enters this little number.

Simply Nigella states this is probably the best mac & cheese recipe my favourite chef has come across, and oh my do I believe it. Sweet potato is such a fantastic vegetable. It has the smoky heavy flavour of meat, and is oh so wonderfully filling.

You can see the original recipe here, and as it says it can be made 1 day ahead with some assembly at the end. In all honesty, I’ll probably still just make a big batch and reheat for work, I’m sure it’ll still be great.

Good things: the colour, the flavour, the carbs.

Bad things: no meat? oh, and you have to make a roux, which I personally dislike doing.

Ingredients & requirements: serves 4

  • 300g of macaroni.
  • 500g sweet potatoes
  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons of plain flour
  • 500ml of full-fat milk
  • 1 teaspoon English mustard
  • 0.5 teaspoon of paprika (two 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 75g of feta cheese
  • 150g of grated cheddar
  • 4 fresh sage leaves

Preparation & cooking

  1. Preheat oven 200C and measure out 300g of macaroni.
  2. Prepare the sweet potatoes
    1. Put a large saucepan on the boil with water so its ready for later
    2. Peel 500g sweet potatoes and cut them into 2-3cm chuncks
    3. Once boiling, salt the water, and then add the sweet potato chunks. Cook 10 mins.
    4. Keep the water! Use a spider spoon to get the sweet potato chunks out, set aside in a large bowl and mash with a fork into a puree.
  3. Prepare the white sauce:
    1. In a medium/large saucepan, melt 60g unsalted butter. Then add 3 tablespoons of plain flour and whisk to form a roux.
    2. Take pan off the heat and slowly add in the 500ml of full-fat milk. Put back on heat once all combined and smooth. Use a spoon now, rather than the whisk, to stir until the sauce has bubbled a bit and thickened.
    3. Once thickened, add 1 teaspoon English mustard and 0.25 teaspoon of paprika, and season to taste (not too much).
  4. Bring the sweet potato water back up to boil. Cook the 300g of macaroni in the sweet potato water (but 1-2 mins less than the cooking instructions, so probs around 6-7 mins). Reserve some of the cooking water before draining, then add it to the sweet potato mash. Fold it in to the mash.
  5. Crumble in 75g of feta cheese into the sweet potato mash.
  6. Fold in the white sauce and 125g of grated cheddar. Add some pasta water if you think it needs loosening up (which you probably will as you don’t want it too dry when it comes out). Season again.
  7. Spoon into one large ovenproof dish. Sprinkle 25g of grated cheddar and 0.25 teaspoon of paprika. Shred 4 fresh sage leaves and scatter those on top.
  8. Bake for 30-35 mins in a large-ish oven dish.
  9. Serve!

Reflections:

The colour of this is just fantastic, a deep beautiful orange, courtesy of  the sweet potato. The photo doesn’t really do it justice, but we’d basically eaten all of it by the time that I realised I needed to take a photo pf the product as it comes out of the oven (my bad).  However, you can rest assured that I will be making this again so expect an updated photo very soon.

IMG_1592

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