Autumn is in the air. There was frost a few nights ago which meant the end of our garden, and the end of summer. With summer slowly fading, it's time to get ready to hibernate.
Comfort food and seasonal favourites abound, and for me this means root vegetables, the last of my summer tomatoes, and squash. Warm, lightly spiced and filling - fall food is just what you need to make it through the (hopefully short!) winter to come.
When tasked to come up with a feel-good comfort meal, my brain automatically goes to mac and cheese. It must be a misspent childhood, but I love any mac and cheese. Kraft dinner, truffled asiago, 4 cheese... reallyl - give me noodles and cheesy sauce and I'm happy.
With mac and cheese settled on I wanted to do something a little different. I decided I'd feature the noble sweet potato. Orange and yummy and full of potassium and vitamin B, C, etc - they're good for you.
Listen to this little gem courtesy of wikipedia:
"In 1992, the Center for Science in the Public Interest compared the nutritional value of sweet potatoes to other vegetables. Considering fiber content, complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins A and C, iron, and calcium, the sweet potato ranked highest in nutritional value. According to these criteria, sweet potatoes earned 184 points, 100 points over the next on the list, the common potato."
There you have it! Sweet potatoes! Mac and cheese! Go forth and eat!
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped
2 cups of macaroni noodles OR another type of curly pasta - fusili or cavatappi (corkscrew macaroni noodles) works great! The curlier the pasta the more it will soak up delicious sauce and sweet potato.
1.5 cups of smoked gouda, shredded
1/8 cup of butter
1/3 cup of flour
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3-5 dashes of cayenne
2 dashes of cumin
2+ cups of milk
pinch of salt
panko bread crumbs
fresh parsley to garnish (optional)
Other things you will need:
one sauce pot to cook your mac and cheese sauce in
at least one pot of heavily salted boiling water
cutting board, knife, vegetable peeler
- Preheat oven to 475.
- In a pot of boiling water, cook your sweet potato until soft. Separate in half. Mash the first half. Set the second half aside, still diced but cooked.
- Bring a pot of heavily salted water to boil and cook pasta until al dente. Once it has cooked - drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
- While your pasta is cooking..... in a sauce pan melt butter over medium heat. Once heated, add your flour, paprika, nutmeg, cumin and cayenne and whisk until a paste has formed. Cook paste for 1 - 2 minutes over medium heat, stirring. Do not allow to burn.
- Add your milk and whisk to combine it with the paste. Allow to cook, stirring frequently for a minute or more. This roux will begin to thicken. Add more milk if necessary to achieve thick sauce-like consistency.
- Whisk in mashed sweet potatoes and half of the gouda. Add salt to taste.
- Combine pasta with diced sweet potatoes, and add cheese sauce gradually until you've achieved a sane combination of sauce and noodles.
- Pour mixture into baking dish and top liberally with remaining cheese and bread crumbs. Add more cheese if necessary :)
- Bake for 18-22 minutes or until golden and crispy on top. Allow to cook and then top with fresh parsley and black pepper. Manger.