This mac and cheese is an all-around pleaser and a fresh take on a staple comfort food. The sweet potatoes add the bright orange color and protein, while the feta cheese and sage elevate the flavors and make the recipe a bit more elegant. Serve this dish in a bowl for more of a comfort feel.
10 oz pennette or other small, short pasta
4 tbsp unsalted butter, soft
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
1 tsp English mustard
1/2 tsp paprika
3 oz feta cheese
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar, grated
4 fresh sage leaves
salt and pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Bring a large saucepan of water to boil.
2. Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into 1-inch pieces. Once the water is boiling, add salt to taste, then the sweet potato pieces and cook them for 10 minutes or until soft.
3. Scoop the sweet potatoes out of the water and into a bowl using slotted spoon, but don’t get rid of the water. Lightly mash the potatoes with a fork.
4. In another saucepan, gently melt the butter and add flour, whisking to form a roux. Then take the pan off heat and slowly whisk in the milk. Put heat back on when it’s all combined and smooth.
5. Continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens and loses floury taste. Add mustard and 1/4 teaspoon of paprika.
6. Cook the pennette in the sweet-potato water. Drain (but reserve some pasta cooking water) and then add the pennette to the mashed sweet potatoes and fold in to combine.
7. Add the feta cheese to the sweet-potato-and-pasta mixture, crumbling it in so that it is easier to disperse evenly. Fold in the béchamel sauce adding the cheddar as you go. Add the pasta cooking water if needed.
8. Season to taste. Spoon the brightly sauced macaroni and cheese into 4 small ovenproof dishes of approximately 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cup capacity. You could also use one large dish measuring approximately 12 x 8 x 2 inches deep and 6 1/2 cup capacity.
9. Sprinkle the remaining cheddar and dust with the remaining paprika on top. Then shred the sage leaves and scatter the skinny green ribbons.
10. Put the dishes on a baking sheet, place them into the oven, and bake for 20 minutes (30-15 minutes if larger dish).
Serve and enjoy!
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