With the holiday’s – full of home cooked grub, warm fireplaces, lie in’s and family behind us, we thought what would make us feel better now that we are faced with the cold & dark journey to the wonderful British Spring Time?
The answer... good old comfort food, with a twist of course!
Courtesy of the talented Nigella Lawson, from her book titled: Simply Nigella.
This very more-ish twist on the humble mac & cheese, with sweet potato adding a golden glow will blast away the winter cobwebs!
- 500 grams sweet potatoes
- 300 grams pennette (or other small pasta)
- 4 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons plain flour
- 500ml full fat milk
- 1 teaspoon english mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika (plus another quarter teaspoon to sprinkle on top)
- 75 grams feta cheese
- 125 grams mature cheddar (plus 25g / quarter cup to sprinkle on top)
- 4 fresh sage leaves
- salt (to taste)
- pepper (to taste)
- Bacon (optional extra to sprinkle on top)
1: Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6/400°F. Put on a large-ish 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/1inch 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 – using a ”spider” or slotted spoon – 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 to form a roux, 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, but do remember that you will be adding Cheddar and salty feta later, so underdo it for now.
4: Cook the pennette in the sweet-potato water, starting to check 2 minutes earlier than packet instructions dictate, as you want to make sure it doesn’t lose its bite entirely. Drain (reserving some of the pasta cooking water first) and then add the pennette 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 125g/1¼ cups 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, then, when you’re happy, spoon the brightly sauced macaroni cheese into 4 small ovenproof dishes of approx. 375–425ml/1½-1¾ cup capacity (or 1 large rectangular dish measuring approx. 30 x 20 x 5cm/12 x 8 x 2 inches deep and 1.6 litre/6½-cup capacity). Sprinkle the remaining Cheddar over each one, dust with the remaining ¼ teaspoon of paprika, then shred the sage leaves and scatter the skinny green ribbons over the top, too.
7: Put the pots on a baking tray, pop into the oven and bake for 20 minutes (or, if you’re making this in a larger dish, bake for 30–35 minutes), by which time they will be piping hot and bubbling, and begging you to eat them.
Smart-Pig Tip: Why not add some cut up strips of bacon on top before you place in the oven?
Now... put on your favourite movie or TV show and enjoy !