The ultimate comfort food — macaroni and cheese — is elevated to a new level with the addition of baked sweet potato and creamy ricotta cheese. The sweet potato not only adds a brilliant orange color but also a sweet, earthy flavor. The dish can be made several hours ahead of time and baked about 30 minutes before serving.
- 8 ounces sweet potato, 1 large or 2 small
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 8 ounces pasta, macaroni, penne, or your favorite shape
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup cream or half and half
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Yield: Serves 4
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the sweet potato on a cookie sheet and bake for 40 minutes, or until just soft when tested with a small sharp knife. Remove from the oven, and let cool. Remove the peel and cut the potato into 1/2-inch size cubes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil for pasta. Cook the pasta for about 11 minutes, or follow the directions (for al dente pasta) on the package depending on what variety you choose. Drain, but do not rinse. Set aside.
Also meanwhile, make the sauce: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over moderate heat. Add the flour and stir to create a thick roux. Cook 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk and the cream, salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until thickened. Reduce the heat to low and add the ricotta; stir until fully incorporated. Add ½ a cup of the parmesan cheese and stir until melted. Season to taste.
Place the drained pasta in a large 8 to 10-inch gratin dish or baking tray. Spoon the cheese sauce on top and stir to coat all the pasta. Stir half the potato pieces into the pasta and top the dish with remaining sweet potato.
- Bake on the middle shelf for 20 minutes. Add the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and bake another 5 to 10 minutes, or until the pasta is hot and bubbling and the cheese is melted.
Kathy Gunst Here and Now Resident Chef. For additional recipes: WBUR Here and Now.