Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say. Faced with several cups of sweet potato puree from a gigantoid (that’s the technical term) 3.5-pound potato found at the farmers market, Stacey had to figure out a way to use up the delicious seasonal ingredient.
Some of the potato puree went into muffins (which were a delicious, less-sweet substitute for canned pumpkin, by the way), but there were still about four cups of puree left. Recalling a recipe for macaroni and cheese that included butternut squash, Stacey concocted a creamy pasta bake that was such a hit with the family, she made it twice in one week.
To roast and puree sweet potato (or squash or pumpkin): Heat oven to 375. Peel and dice sweet potato, put in a bowl, add oil and salt to taste. Spread diced potatoes in one layer on a baking sheet, cooking until tender, about 30-40 minutes. Puree in blender or food processor adding water as necessary until sweet potato becomes a smooth paste.
To make pasta bake: Boil 1 16-oz box pasta (bowtie or similar) to directions on box. While pasta cooks, preheat oven to 375 and heat a pan with oil on stovetop. Brown 1 medium diced onion and then add diced garlic (to taste) and cook until garlic is fragrant. Remove from heat.
Drain pasta and put in greased casserole dish. Add 1 or 2 Tbsp. butter, cut into cubes. Stir to melt butter. Stir in a few cups of pureed sweet potato and slowly add milk (or cream) until puree combines well but isn’t liquidy. Mix in onion and garlic as well as a cup or so of shredded mozzarella (or another favorite type of) cheese.
Sprinkle panko, some kosher salt and Parmesan cheese to cover top of pasta mix. Bake for about 15 minutes to heat dish through and brown crust.
While you wouldn’t know that this amazing meal contains a vitamin-rich vegetable, we’re not big fans of “hiding” or “disguising” healthy foods, but this isn’t enough of a disguise to count. When serving this to kids, perhaps offer it up with a side of sweet potato puree or roasted sweet potatoes so that they can appreciate the tuber in and out of the casserole.
What’s your favorite healthy sweet potato recipe?
P.S. – The pretty orange textile in the photo is from Tonic Living. It looks amazing as curtains and a crib bumper in Stacey’s son’s nursery.