youtube pinterest twitter facebook instagram vimeo Bookmark Entries BURGER NEW Chevron Down Chevron Left Chevron Right Basket Speech Comment Search Video Play Icon Premium Nigella Lawson Vegan Vegetarian Member Speech Recipe Bookmark Comment Camera Scales Quantity List Reorder Remove Open book
Menu Signed In
More Nigella recipes

Sweet Potato Macaroni Cheese

by . Featured in SIMPLY NIGELLA
Print me

Introduction

I’m just going to say it: this is the best macaroni cheese I’ve ever eaten. I don’t feel it’s boastful to say as much, as the greatness lies not in any brilliance on my part, but in the simple tastes of the ingredients as they fuse in the heat. That’s home cooking for you.

I do rather love the way these little macaroni cheeses, with their pixie-penne, look like they’ve been made with artificially coloured, cheap squeezy cheese or out of a box, when in fact their exotic glow comes courtesy of the earthy goodness of a sweet potato.

I’m just going to say it: this is the best macaroni cheese I’ve ever eaten. I don’t feel it’s boastful to say as much, as the greatness lies not in any brilliance on my part, but in the simple tastes of the ingredients as they fuse in the heat. That’s home cooking for you.

I do rather love the way these little macaroni cheeses, with their pixie-penne, look like they’ve been made with artificially coloured, cheap squeezy cheese or out of a box, when in fact their exotic glow comes courtesy of the earthy goodness of a sweet potato.

Sweet Potato Macaroni Cheese
Photo by Keiko Oikawa

Ingredients

Serves: 4

Metric Cups
  • 500 grams sweet potatoes
  • 300 grams pennette (or other small, short pasta)
  • 4 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons plain flour
  • 500 millilitres 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 25g/quarter cup to sprinkle on top)
  • 4 fresh sage leaves
  • salt (to taste)
  • pepper (to taste)
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes
  • 10 ounces pennette (or other small, short pasta)
  • 4 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon english mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika (plus another quarter teaspoon to sprinkle on top)
  • 3 ounces feta cheese
  • 1¼ cups mature cheddar (plus 25g/quarter cup to sprinkle on top)
  • 4 fresh sage leaves
  • salt (to taste)
  • pepper (to taste)

Method

  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.
  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.

Additional Information

MAKE AHEAD NOTE: The macaroni cheese can be made 1 day ahead. When the pasta has cooked, reserve 100ml/7 tablespoons of the cooking water and add this to the white sauce (it may look a little thin but the pasta absorbs the sauce as it cools). Transfer to the ovenproof dishes (without the sage topping). Once cool, cover and refrigerate within 2 hours of making. Sprinkle with the Cheddar, paprika and sage just before baking and cook for an extra 5–10 minutes, checking that the macaroni cheese is piping hot in the centre before serving.

MAKE AHEAD NOTE: The macaroni cheese can be made 1 day ahead. When the pasta has cooked, reserve 100ml/7 tablespoons of the cooking water and add this to the white sauce (it may look a little thin but the pasta absorbs the sauce as it cools). Transfer to the ovenproof dishes (without the sage topping). Once cool, cover and refrigerate within 2 hours of making. Sprinkle with the Cheddar, paprika and sage just before baking and cook for an extra 5–10 minutes, checking that the macaroni cheese is piping hot in the centre before serving.

Tell us what you think

What 4 Others have said

  • I love the combination of the savoury mac & cheese and the sweetness of the sweet potato. Everyone really enjoyed this meal!

    Posted by ElisabethF on 1st May 2017
  • This turned out great! I only altered one thing, I roasted the sweet potato instead of boiling it ( inn an attempt to retain the flavour ). Everyone seemed to love it, thank you.

    Posted by DylanAlex on 30th December 2016
  • Great recipe Nigella, saw it on the Living room tonight and just had to search for it online at 2.10am before I went to bed. Have got sweet potatoes in the fridge, and have been waiting for a great macaroni cheese recipe with a difference. My task first thing when I get up is go make this. Thank you for sharing, as I will with my friends. Regards, Maxine from South Australia

    Posted by Mynightowl on 27th May 2016
  • Making left over sweet potato chick pea dip right! I re-incarnated the afore mentioned dip into Nigella's sweet potatoe macaroni and cheese. Heaven! Also, had to substitute the feta with a smooth blue veined cheese because thats what I had in the fridge. Gorgeously luscious!

    Posted by Nigello on 25th January 2016
Show more comments