Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sweet Potato Spinach Mac and Cheese

What do you do when there's a buy one get one sale? You buy two, correct! Does this apply to things like spinach? Absolutely. The only problem is I'm no Popeye, I don't eat spinach that quickly and then it goes bad and it's a waste of free spinach.

So in an effort to find alternative uses for spinach beyond salad, I discovered spinach mac and cheese. Sorry, sweet potato spinach mac and cheese, with the ingredients listed in the order of their prevalence.

Mountain of iron!
Previously when I've attempted to mash sweet potatoes, I get impatient and try to mash them prematurely which results in chunks of sweet potato, no big deal. But this is mac and cheese we're talking about, it has to be right. So at one point, I had the pasta boiling and the peeled and cubed sweet potatoes boiling and then this pan of onions and spinach simmering. And of course my eyes are burning because these are onions we're talking about, here.

It all looks so delicious and colorful! I'm told you should have a very colorful dinner platter to be healthy and this is definitely following that rule. And to make it even better, you get to mash things together and they taste delicious. Since this is healthy, there is only half a cup of cheese so the orange color of this dish is really the sweet potato. This definitely doesn't replace true cheesy mac and cheese but it is nice to eat pasta guilt free (oh yeah, it's whole wheat pasta).

So many pots, so little space. And so colorful!
As I dig into my delicious pile of pasta, I realize that it wasn't that cheesy and was somewhat bland. Which is when I realized I forgot to add the nutmeg to the sweet potatoes. Don't do that, nutmeg is a very strong spice and therefore important if it's included in a recipe. I've taken to adding nutmeg to a variety of vegetables because I have all this nutmeg for eggnog and I would like to actually use the spices I buy. Never fear! You can just add the nutmeg on top, as a last resort. Definitely follow directions, I'm having trouble with that lately. So far everything has turned out but I have a feeling at an inopportune moment, this will backfire. Like when I have to bake a birthday cake or bring something to a party or a cookie swap (spoiler alert: that happened). 
8 oz. whole wheat fusilli, penne, macaroni elbows or other small pasta shape
1 large or two medium sweet potato(es), peeled and diced
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups fresh spinach leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp reduced fat (2%) sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup milk (low-fat or nonfat)
1/4 tsp nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste


  • Cook pasta while also boiling sweet potato until tender. Mash the sweet potato and set aside (also drain the pasta when it's done, these should be in separate bowls)
  • Heat olive oil in medium pot over medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until onions are translucent. Add the spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Stir the milk into mashed sweet potato, then add the spinach mixture. Stir to combind.
  • Add 1/2 cup of cheese and stir more. Add nutmeg, salt and pepper. 
  • Add pasta and stir well.
  • The part I didn't do: transfer to large baking dish (needs to be oven-proof) and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Place under broiler for 1-2 minutes until top is lightly browne.d

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