Mac and cheese is an appealing meal no matter how old you are, but it’s especially popular with the small fry set. I just wish it were a little bit healthier, which is why I pause before giving it to Charlie. Though I am fortunate to have such an excellent little eater, I have noticed that now that he can feed himself, he’ll take grilled cheese over vegetables anytime. I’ve started employing little tricks to get him to eat his veggies—giving them to him first, followed by whatever else is on the menu or mixing them into things I know he’ll eat, like scrambled eggs and spinach. Which brings me to today’s post. I’ll feel better feeding Charlie macaroni and cheese if there’s a vegetable in there somewhere. Sweet potato and butternut squash are natural choices as we roll into Fall, and since I had sweet potatoes on hand—and Charlie loves them—an idea began brewing.
I have a great recipe for Truffle Mac and Cheese and with a few modifications I was able to incorporate the sweet potato as well. Wow. The sweet potato adds such a pleasant taste and texture to the dish and it melds really well with the cheddar. I made this for Charlie, but while he’s napping I just had some myself (you know for quality control) and this is definitely a meal the whole family can enjoy!
Sweet Potato Macaroni and Cheese
1/2 pound whole wheat elbow pasta
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot whole milk
1 large sweet potato, peeled, boiled and then mashed (you should get about 1 to 1 1/2 cups out of it)
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used a blend of lite cheddar, Monterey Jack and mozzarella. Normally I shred the cheese myself, but pre-shredded is what I had and it worked)
1/8 cup panko breadcrumb
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add salt and cook the elbow macaroni until al dente. Drain and rinse to remove excess starch, which can make the finished product mealy. While the pasta is boiling, warm the milk. In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter until it begins to bubble, but hasn’t yet browned. Add the flour and whisk constantly for 2-3 minutes over low heat. Add the milk in a steady stream and continue to whisk for another 4-5 minutes. Let the milk mixture cook for another 3-4 minutes or until it’s thickened. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Then add in the cheese and sweet potato and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and add the pasta to the pot, stirring to coat. Pour the mixture into an 8 x 8 baking dish and top with the breadcrumb Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the top is browned and bubbly. Serve warm.
This post is part of Food Network’s Summer Fest, a weekly collection of delicious recipes starring the season’s best bounty. For more ideas on how to prepare potatoes, check out the blogs below!
Jeanette’s Healthy Living: Crock-Pot Stuffed Baked Sweet Potatoes
Feed Me Phoebe: Roasted Potato and Green Bean Salad With Almond-Chive Pesto
Dishin & Dishes: Roasted Potato Salad
Big Girls Small Kitchen: Shakin’ Hash Browns
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Red Chile Breakfast Potatoes
Virtually Homemade: Potato Onion Bread With Poppy Seeds
Sweet Life Bake: Tacos de Papa Potato (Potato Tacos)
From My Corner of Saratoga: Easy Crispy Fried Potatoes
Thursday Night Dinner: Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Coconut Oil
FN Dish: The Multipurpose Potato