Sweet Potato Macaroni Cheese

T’is the season of sweet potatoes. A root vegetable my family loves and probably one of the most-versatile vegetables. Their creamy texture and sweet-spicy flavour that makes them ideal for savoury dishes. It is filling and packed with goodness. Add some macaroni to it and this dish could easily become your family’s favourite!

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 500 gr sweet potatoes
  • 300 gr small, short pasta
  • 4 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons plain flour
  • 500 ml full fat milk
  • 1 teaspoon English mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika (plus another quarter teaspoon to sprinkle on top)
  • 75 grams feta cheese
  • 125 grams mature cheddar (plus 25gr to sprinkle on top)
  • 4 fresh sage leaves
  • salt (to taste)
  • pepper (to taste)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Put on a pan of water to boil, with the lid on to make it come to the boil faster.
  2. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them roughly into 2–3cm pieces. When the water’s boiling, add salt to taste, and then the sweet potato pieces, and cook them for about 10 minutes or until they are soft. Scoop them out of the water into a bowl and lightly mash with a fork, without turning them into a purée. Don’t get rid of this water, as you will need it to cook your pasta in later.
  3. In another saucepan, gently melt the butter and add the flour, whisking until blended, then take the pan off the heat, slowly whisk in the milk and, when it’s all combined and smooth, put back on the heat. Exchange your whisk for a wooden spoon, and continue to stir until your gently bubbling sauce has lost any floury taste and has thickened. Add the mustard and the ¼ teaspoon of paprika. Season to taste.
  4. Cook the pasta in the sweet-potato water, starting to check 2 minutes earlier than packet instructions to make sure it is very al dente. Drain (reserving some of the pasta cooking water first) and then add the pasta to the mashed sweet potato, and fold in to combine; the heat of the pasta will make the mash easier to mix in.
  5. Add the feta cheese to the sweet potato and pasta mixture, crumbling it in so that it is easier to disperse evenly, then fold in the white sauce, adding the 125gr grated cheddar as you go. Add some of the pasta cooking water, should you feel it needs loosening up at all.
  6. Check for seasoning again and spoon the brightly sauced macaroni cheese into 4 small ovenproof casseroles or 1 large rectangular dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar, dust with the remaining ¼ teaspoon of paprika, then shred the sage leaves and scatter the skinny green ribbons over the top, too.
  7. Pop casseroles into the oven and bake for 20 minutes (or, if you’re making this in a larger dish, bake for 30–35 minutes).

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