Nigella says this is the best macaroni cheese she’s ever eaten. It disappeared pretty quickly at Supper Club.
- Large pot, with lid
- Kitchen scale
- Slotted spoon
- Fork or potato masher
- Sieve or colander
- Medium mixing bowl
- 9 X 11 baking dish
- Measuring spoons
- Rubber spatula
- Vegetable peeler
- 500 grams sweet potatoes (about 2, medium)
- 300 grams whole wheat macaroni (or other small, short pasta)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 500 millilitres milk
- 1 teaspoon prepared English mustard (we used Dijon, because that’s what we had)
- ¼ teaspoon paprika (plus another ¼ 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)
- whole wheat panko, as needed, to create a crunchy topping (optional)
1 Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Put on a large pot 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 mash with a fork or potato masher. 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. Using a wooden spoon, stir until your gently bubbling sauce has thickened. Add the mustard and the ¼ teaspoon of paprika. Remove from heat and add the 125g/1¼ cups grated Cheddar, stirring it in as it melts. Season to taste, but do remember that you will be adding Cheddar and salty feta later, so underdo it for now.
4 Cook the pasta 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 pasta 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 as you add and stir. Fold in the cheese sauce, adding a bit of the reserved pasta water if the mixture becomes too thick.
6 Check for seasoning again, then, when you’re happy, spoon the brightly sauced macaroni & cheese into the baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining Cheddar over top, [we mixed some whole wheat panko in with the grated cheese, because we like a crunchy topping] 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 into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, until piping hot and bubbling. Let sit a few minutes before serving.