Things I don't get: Kraft Dinner and this country's love of it. It's not that I begrudge other people eating it, but try to serve it to me and watch me push it around the bowl like a child. People try to sell me on classier versions of KD, like PC's Deluxe White Cheddar, but I just don't understand how people can eat it. The problem is, of course, that I don't get the appeal of macaroni and cheese.
Even so, I occasionally like to challenge myself to eat something I didn't like before to see if maybe I was too harsh in the past. Along came this recipe via the London Free Press. My mom clipped it for me, knowing that I am a professed sweet potato and white cheddar lover. And you know what? It is better than I thought.
Sweet Potato Mac with White Cheddar
|12 oz ||dry whole–wheat macaroni||375 g|
|2 tsp||vegetable oil|| 10 mL|
|1/2 cup||grated sweet onion||125 mL|
|2||cloves garlic, minced||2|
|1 1/2 cups||mashed sweet potatoes||375 mL|
|1||can, fat free evaporated milk||1|
|1 1/4 cups||shredded sharp white Cheddar cheese||300 mL|
|1/4 cup||chopped fresh sage leaves or green onion, divided||50 mL|
|2 tbsp||Dijon mustard||30 mL|
|1 tsp||freshly ground black pepper||5 mL|
|1/2 tsp||each salt and ground nutmeg||2 mL|
|1/2 cup||coarse whole–wheat bread crumbs||125 mL|
|1/4 cup||chopped pecans||50 mL|
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly spray an 8–cup (2 L) baking dish with cooking spray. Prepare the macaroni in unsalted water according to the package instructions for making al dente pasta.
Heat the oil, onion and garlic in a saucepan set over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, for 2 to 3 minutes or until translucent. Stir in the sweet potatoes, evaporated milk and 1 cup (250 mL) of the cheddar cheese. Cook, stirring, until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Transfer to a blender; add half the sage, the Dijon mustard, pepper, salt and nutmeg. Blend until very smooth.
Coat the macaroni with the sauce and transfer to the prepared dish. Toss the breadcrumbs with the remaining cheese, remaining sage and pecans. Sprinkle evenly over the casserole. Bake for 20 minutes or until heated throughout and topping is lightly browned. Serve immediately.
Makes 8 main course servings.
*Two medium, baked sweet potatoes.
Chef’s Tip: The sauce, macaroni and topping can be prepared ahead and reserve separately in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Assemble and bake the casserole just before serving.
Nutritional Information: Per Serving (1 cup/250 mL), Calories: 377, Protein: 15 g, Fat: 10 g, Saturated Fat: 4 g, Cholesterol: 16 g, Carbohydrate: 56 g, Fibre: 7 g, Sodium: 448 mg, Potassium: 335 mg
Excellent source of vitamin A, folate, thiamin and calcium. Good source of vitamin D and iron.
- I can't find the LFPress version on their website, but it was real, okay?
- Never in my life have I been directed to use a container based solely on its volume. I was so bewildered that I called home for advice, and my dad thought for a minute and replied, "Do you have that glass dish?" The 9 x 11 glass baking dish he was referring to was exactly the right size because my dad does not have the spatial relations problems that plague me.
- Remember: when you use a glass baking dish, reduce the heat by 25°F.
- Al dente pasta should take around 8 minutes. Use lots of water to help your pasta cook evenly. I like to encourage my pasta to dance.
- I have no idea what the value of grating the onion is if you are just going to blend it later. Grating an onion is a difficult feat.
- Get ready to have your mind blown: I used one package of Betty Crocker instant mashed sweet potatoes cooked in the microwave according to the instructions. That's right! Instant sweet potatoes! Microwave! Maybe Will Parker would be proud.
- I could not seem to find white cheddar that day at the grocery store. Old (orange) cheddar was good, and I'm sure that extra old white cheddar would have been even better. Also, less orange.
- "Or green onion"? Did not even see those words until now. Sage all the way.
- Omitted the Dijon. I can't stand mustard.
- Tip: remove the centre from your blender lid and cover with a towel to allow steam to escape instead of building up pressure when you blend the sauce.
- I coated the macaroni in the sauce in the baking dish. Ooo, rebel!
- I forgot to toss the topping together and ended up adding it in layers. Don't think it made a major difference. The pecans only went over half as my guest doesn't eat nuts (save pistachios for reasons unknown).
- The topping wasn't browned but the rest looked done after 20 minutes, so I turned on the broiler to finish off the top, thus burning the topping and the pie I had in the oven for dessert. As always, my impatience is never rewarded.
- Delicious nonetheless. I will add this to my list of cold weather comfort foods along with shepherd's pie and butternut squash risotto.