I do love me some Mac and Cheese! Most of you, I’m sure, have seen the recipe I posted a while back for the Manly Mac and Cheese that my buddies and I make for Steak Night. Well, with the bacon and grilled chicken it’s not vegetarian friendly for my fiance. So I played with a variation of a recipe I had found with sweet potatoes mixed into Mac and Cheese (we LOVE sweet potatoes!). One night we picked up everything we needed from the store and got to work in the kitchen.
The smell of the garlic and rosemary while it’s cooking is enough to get you drooling. This one came together beautifully and is a great vegetarian Mac. This recipe has even become popular with my meat-eating buddies…
- 10 cloves garlic
- 1 large (or 2 small) orange sweet potato, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices or thicker
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 ounces pasta (your choice)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons flour
- freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups half-and-half
- 2 cups Italian Blend Shredded Cheese
- 3/4 cup Asiago cheese, shredded
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1/4 cup italian breadcrumbs
- 2-4 medium jalapenos (chopped, diced or sliced…cook’s preference)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray or rub with butter.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add garlic and sweet potatoes and cook until the sweet potatoes are just starting to soften (about 5 minutes); remove cloves and sweet potatoes and let cool. When cloves have cooled, use a garlic press to press blanched cloves; set aside.
- While the water is still hot, add salt to the boiling water and toss in the pasta. Cook until al dente (do not overcook). When done, drain and set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; Dice sweet potatoes and cook in skillet, flipping occasionally, until they develop a caramelized crust (about 5 minutes). Set aside with the pasta.
- Pour yourself another glass of Sauvignon Blanc (per Russ Beebe). <<– Important step
- In the large pot over low heat, melt the butter. Add flour and stir to combine. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium, add in salt and pepper, and, with a wire whisk, gradually add half-and-half. Bring to a boil while continuously stirring. It should start to thicken up. Reduce heat, and then simmer 1 minute (too long and it will get too thick making it hard to incorporate the cheese).
- Stir 1 3/4 cup Italian Blend Shredded Cheese and 1/2 cup Asiago cheese until melted and smooth. Add blanched pressed garlic, diced sweet potatoes, rosemary, minced garlic, jalapeno and cooked pasta. Stir to combine. Pour into greased casserole dish.
- To make topping, combine a tablespoon olive oil, breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup Italian Blend Cheese, and 1/4 cup Asiago cheese in a small mixing bowl. Stir until well combined. Sprinkle on top of pasta.
- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and topping golden brown. Serve.
There are a lot of steps to this one, with the addition of the caramelized sweet potatoes. But it is well worth the work. I’ve made this one a half-dozen times or so now and everyone really seems to enjoy it. Give it shot! Let me know what you think…