During the winter months, we eat a lot more pasta. It’s not always the healthiest but I love finding ways to add more vegetables to each dish without overloading. This sweet potato mac and cheese was one of my first experiments that has been made for years. The sweet potato helps to create a beautiful, golden sauce and pairs perfectly with the spinach. More recently, this is one of my favorite freezer-meals to make for families with babies!
Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese with Spinach
A filling and hearty mac and cheese that balances salty cheese with healthy sweet potatoes- creating an extra bright and delicious meal!
- 2 medium sweet potatoes 1 pound
- 3 cups whole wheat pasta 8 ounces
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 3/4 cup shredded asiago cheese
- 1/2 cup grated vegetarian parmesan cheese
- 2 handfuls spinach
Peel and cube sweet potato. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add sweet potato, and cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly. Place cooked sweet potato in large bowl and mash, using a splash of the milk, until smooth.
Bring a pot of water to a boil again with a pinch of salt and cook pasta as instructed 6 to 8 minutes. Pasta should still be al dente (and not overcooked). Drain and set aside.
Preheat oven to 400˚F.
In a saucepan, melt butter and add garlic, over medium heat and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in flour and let cook for another 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in remaining milk, salt and pepper; cook until mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat and whisk in sweet potato puree. Mix together the cheeses and add 3/4 of the cheese mixture.
In a large casserole dish, add pasta, spinach, and cheese sauce. Mix until spinach is slightly wilted and pasta is well coated with cheese sauce. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes until cheese on top is bubbling and browning.
Tips & Tricks: Sweet potatoes yield 1 1/2 cups mashed sweet potato. If you want to avoid clumps of sweet potato, you can puree in a blender or food processor.
To conserve time (and water), cook the pasta first and reserve the water to cook the sweet potatoes.
Nutrition: See the information.
Sweet Potato Mac
The real base for this sweet potato mac is the sauce. It taste rich without being overly heavy thanks to the sweet potatoes. Beyond the swaps below, you can easily add more vegetables to this sweet potato mac and cheese. I’ll occasionally up the amount of greens, add roasted broccoli/cauliflower, or add cubes of sweet potato along with the puree.
Pumpkin: Instead of sweet potato, you could use pureed pumpkin.
Greens: Try this recipe with shredded kale or swiss chard instead of spinach.
There’s no denying I am a pasta lover. However, for years I avoided eating a lot of pasta because when I was first vegetarian, it was a big part of my diet. I’ve now found balance and it’s something I make once a week. I also love making my own pasta (it’s a lot easier than one might think!)
This recipe was originally published on November 12, 2012 and last updated on December 1st, 2016. The recipe varies slightly so if you’re looking for the original recipe, you can find it here.