We all know that bacon makes it better. Who doesn't know that? You? Oh, well now you know. It does.
You know what else makes it better? Sweet potatoes. Truth.
This month for my Secret Recipe Club assignment, I was matched up to the Veggie Converter blog. Now I'm not a vegetarian. However, I don't think Kristi will hold my love of bacon against me. At least I hope not!
Kristi is a wife and a mom of two kids and makes delicious vegetarian and vegan meals for them. I really think Kristi and I were meant to be friends in this life. You may ask why. This is totally because we share a passion for freezing food. In Kristi's case, she's trying to feed her family healthy meals on a daily basis. In my case, I simply don't want my meals to spoil while I'm traveling for work each week. Freezing allows me to choose a variety of meals to defrost and eat whenever I return. I like to think of these as personalized gourmet meals. Kristi knows where it's at.
After much perusing of her blog, I finally decided to make Kristi's Sweet Potato Macaroni and Cheese dish. As I've already mentioned, I'm not a vegetarian, so I decided to throw some bacon into the mix. And to make Kristi happy, I also tossed in some peas. The peas definitely even things out.
Sweet Potato Macaroni and Cheese with Peas and Bacon
adapted from The Veggie Converter
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lb fusilli, cooked and drained (I used a "twisted" pasta because the sauce sticks much better than other types of pasta)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 4 tablespoons chicken broth (can substitute vegetable broth if you like)
- 2 shallots, diced
- 1-2 garlic cloves
- 2 cups sweet potato puree
- 3 cups milk
- habanero sauce
- 1/2 - 1 teaspoons paprika
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 1-2 cups frozen peas, thawed
- 3 cups Fontina cheese
1) Make the slurry: Whisk the cornstarch into the chicken broth until well incorporated. Set aside.
2) Drizzle the olive oil in a large skillet, over medium heat.
3) When the oil is heated through, saute the shallots for 2-3 minutes.
4) Add the garlic cloves and cook for 1 minute.
5) Pour in the slurry and whisk together with the ingredients in the pan. Simmer for 1 minute.
6) Spoon in the sweet potato puree and simmer the mixture for 2-3 minutes.
7) Lower the heat and add the milk. Stir to combine.
8) Add the habanero sauce, paprika, salt and pepper, to taste. Don't add too much salt, as cheese will also be added later.
9) Stir until this mixture thickens, about 2 minutes.
10) Toss in the bacon and peas.
11) Add the pasta to the sauce and stir to coat the pasta.
12) Sprinkle in the cheese and continue to stir to incorporate it into the macaroni dish.
13) Add more milk and cheese if you desire a creamier consistency. Adjust seasonings to taste, if necessary.
If you've been following along closely, you'll notice that I may have taken a few giant leaps and bounds when it came to adapting this recipe. I sometimes have a hard time leaving well enough alone. Also, I'm a bit of a cheese-lover so I can't make a recipe unless there's at least twice as much cheese as originally called for. I think Kristi would approve.
The macaroni and cheese was smooth and creamy. The sweet potato wasn't as pronounced as I thought it would be, but it was still tasty. I also think I would add more bacon when I make something like this in the future. I love love love the addition of peas to this dish. I think the smoothness of the sweet potato puree, milk and cheese required a little something extra to punch up the texture and the peas provide that missing link.