Baked Mac and Sweet Potato

Mac and cheese is a classic, well loved comfort dish and there are countless variations. But no matter what’s in it, I’ve always preferred my mac and cheese to be creamy, yet slightly crispy, from baking. And neither soupy nor dried out.

When made with just pasta and cheese, as it often is, the dish is lacking much in the way of nutritional value. Instead, it’s a high calorie, high fat and high sodium guilty pleasure. I figured there had to be a way to both meet my mac and cheese expectations while turning it into a dish with some redeeming value and without the guilt.

My answer was to cut down on the cheese and add in mashed sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes add creaminess and a vegetable component while making the reduced amount of cheese less apparent. Last week I did something similar when I made butternut squash enchiladas that contained a limited amount of cheese. I adapted (and I’d say improved upon) this recipe from Cooking Light.

Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against cheese. In fact, I could live on cheese and that’s the problem. Being so high in fat and with a serving size at just one ounce, it’s too easy to get carried away. So I look for ways to keep my cheese intake realistic. This may not be the cheesiest mac and cheese you’ll ever have, but it’s not a bad alternative.
You start by chopping your sweet potatoes and putting them in a medium sized pot.

Add milk, thyme, onion, garlic and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, partially covered, until the potatoes are tender. Simmering the potatoes right in the milk and broth imparts a ton of flavor, as opposed to just cooking them in water.

When they’re tender, remove the pot from the heat and puree with an immersion blender. Of course, you could transfer the hot contents to a standard blender and puree that way, but you’ll want to be very careful. Or if you don’t have either, you could also just mash it up for a chunkier result. Then add the yogurt, salt, pepper…

and of course, the cheese. I choose Cheddar and Fontina – a creamy, rich Italian cheese that melts well and is popular in fondue. Those just happened to be the cheeses I had at the time, so use what you like. And if you must, increase the amount of cheese.

The sweet potato cheese sauce after everything is melted and combined.

I liked this fun spiral pasta. All of the grooves and twists help capture the sauce.

See? It’s ready for the baking dish.

Every mac and cheese needs some good breadcrumbs on top. I ran some stale bread through the food processor and combined the crumbs with Parmesan and paprika before coating my pasta. Then it baked at 375F for about 25 minutes, until bubbling and browned.

Mac and Sweet Potato

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 6 + servings

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cubed and peeled sweet potatoes
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 4 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and stems discarded
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup chopped Fontina cheese
  • 1 pound spiral pasta
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Combine the sweet potatoes, broth, milk, onion, thyme and garlic in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pot bring water to boil and cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain well.
  4. Using an immersion blender, puree the sweet potato mixture. Add salt, pepper, Cheddar, Fontina and Greek yogurt. Stir until combined and the cheese is melted.
  5. Add the pasta to the sweet potato mixture and stir until combined. Spread mixture evenly into a large glass or ceramic baking dish.
  6. Combine the breadcrumbs, paprika, and Parmesan and top the mac.
  7. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve.

Roasted Root Vegetable Fries

 

 

Roasted Root Vegetable Fries
Yield: 4-6 servings

Ingredients:
2 lbs of root vegetables: beets, rutabagas, carrots, celeriac, parsnips, potatoes, turnips, sweet potatoes
2 Tbsp. olive oil (or canola)
2 cloves garlic, minced (or ½ tsp. garlic powder)
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425 °F.
2. Scrub veggies—you don’t need to peel them, just trim off any rough ends.
3. Cut veggies into thin strips of uniform size.
4. In a bowl combine oil and garlic (or other seasoning, see ideas below).
5. Lay the veggie strips out in a single layer on baking sheets. Arrange vegetables roughly in groups, since their cooking times may vary slightly and you may want to remove some before others
6. Pour the oil mixture over the veggie strips and toss to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, if desired.
7. Bake for ~45 minutes or until tender and crispy. Toss at least once with a spatula to ensure even roasting.

Further seasoning ideas:
-Minced garlic and finely chopped rosemary
-Minced garlic and oregano
-Coconut oil (instead of olive), chopped pumpkin seeds, garlic and sea salt
-Fresh rosemary and thyme with salt and pepper

Sweet Potato and Brussel Sprout Salad

turkey

Sweet Potato & Brussel Sprout Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of leftover turkey meat
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound leftover Brussels sprouts
  • 1 pound leftover sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups Israeli couscous
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons softened butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh juice from about 2 lemons
Instructions
  1. Pour 3 1/3 cups of water into a medium-sized saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the couscous and a pinch of salt. Cook, adjusting the heat if water thinks about boiling over, until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain in a colander when done.
  2. Add two tablespoons of the butter to a skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the dried cranberries, almonds, and a pinch of salt, and stir well. Cook until almonds are lightly toasted. Add the drained couscous and stir well. Turn off the heat and add 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice as well as Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes. Stir to combine. Taste, and add more butter or lemon juice if needed. Season with more salt and pepper.
  3. Divide the couscous mixture between three large bowls, and top with some pulled turkey. Serve immediately.

Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes

All of this talk about maple syrup is getting me hungry.  This recipe serves 12 and only takes about 10 minutes of active cooking. Ingredients: 2.5 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1.5 in pieces (8 cups) 1/3 cup Vermont maple syrup 2 tbs butter or margarine, melted 1 tbs lemon juice 1/2 tsp. salt Pepper to taste

1. Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees. 2. Place sweet potatoes in an even layer in a glass baking dish.  Combine the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl and pour the mixture over the sweet potatoes. (This is the perfect time to get a child helping with dinner!) 3. Cover and bake the potatoes for 15 minutes.  Uncover, stir, and bake again while stirring every 15 minutes until the potatoes are tender and beginning to brown.  This will take 45 minutes to an hour.

Using a non-dairy butter instead of dairy will bring this recipe down to no cholesterol!  Get more information on this dish’s nutritional content here .

National Cook A Sweet Potato Day!

Just when you’ve forgotten about sweet potatoes . . . National Cook a Sweet Potato Day is a great reminder of these tasty, nutrient-packed tubers!Thanks to Foodimentary.com, Everyday Chef is excited to share some interesting sweet potato stats that you can sprinkle into conversations today to impress your friends.  Then, check out one Everday Chef’s recipes, Baked Mac and Sweet Potato or Maple Roasted Sweet Potato , for the perfect celebratory meal!

FIVE FOOD FACTS ABOUT SWEET POTATOES

1. Sweet potatoes are the 6th most important food crop in the world.

2. Asia accounts for 90% of the world consumption of sweet potatoes.

3. George Washington Carver helped to develop the primary adhesive used for postage stamps from the mucilage(sticky film) of  sweet potatoes.

4. Sweet potatoes are actually tuberous roots which are considered one of the worlds most nutritious foods in the vegetable kingdom.

5. Despite the physical similarities of yams and sweet potatoes, they actually are not even closely related. Yams are actually closely related to grasses and lilies.

Read more from Foodimentary here.