Before any wheat-avoiders get optimistic – this is not sweet potato instead of pasta, this is sweet potato as well as pasta.
I don’t know why either really. It was nice though.
I’ll give the instructions from memory in chronological order. Nigella did little dishes but I did this in a “feeds 4” sized lasagne dish.
Put oven on to 200C, boil kettle.
Peel two sweet potatoes, cut them up a bit, put in a big saucepan and boil (using water from the kettle of course). Fill the kettle up again and set it to boil again.
Melt 3 tbsp (60g apparently) in small saucepan, add 3 tbsp of plain flour and beat in til it makes a paste. Wonder why your pastes never look this good when you are trying to make choux pastry or croquettas.
Take off the heat. Pour in a little bit of full-fat milk, beat til it looks smooth. Don’t bother with a whisk, it’ll just get stuck inside the balloon. Just beat it hard with a wooden spoon. Keep doing this til you’ve added 500ml (just under a pint) of milk. Beat it HARD. Don’t add the milk all at once or it’ll go lumpy.
Put back on very low heat, stir occasionally while you roughly chop up 75g (a bit under half a pack) of feta and grate 125g (half or a quarter of a pack depending on the size of your pack) of mature cheddar.
Your sweet potatoes are probably soft now – lift them out of the water with a slotted spoon and put them into the lasagne dish. Nigella doesn’t actually say where to put them, but this dish is getting dirty anyway and nobody wants to make more washing up unless they have to. Put 300g (3/5 of a pack) of macaroni or other pasta into the sweet-potato-ish water. Add more water from your kettle til it’s covered, keep the heat on to cook the pasta.
Stir your sauce – is it thick yet? Give it a teaspoon of mustard and a teaspoon of paprika. Don’t forget to stir right down to the bottom. If it’s not thick yet, cook it some more. If it gets really thick, don’t worry, but turn off the heat.
Stir your feta and some of your cheddar into your now-thick white sauce. Add some salt, but I have no idea how much.
Mash your sweet potatoes with a masher.
Is your pasta cooked yet? Drain your pasta – keep a bit of the water.
Put your pasta and your mashed sweet potato into the big saucepan. If your sauce is very thick, add a bit of the pasta water. Put that in the saucepan too and stir it all about. Does it look gloopy and sticky? Good.
I wiped around my lasagne dish with some butter using a bit of kitchen roll. I have no idea if this helped but it seemed like a good idea.
Does this seem like an awful lots of steps for a baked pasta dish to you? It took me 45 mins from a cold start to get to this stage, and this is the first time I’ve done it. I’d expect this bit to be under 30 mins once I knew what I was doing.
Put your gloopy pasta-potato-sauce mix into your lasagne dish, sprinkle over the rest of the cheddar, sprinkle over some paprika. Nigella does something with sage leaves. If you have a sage plant in your garden then I guess put some leaves on top? Put into oven.
Come back 20-30mins later – everything is already hot and cooked so you just want to make the cheese melt and look good. You could probably do this bit under the grill really.
Gooey cheese is good.
Here is it on a plate. It’s nice. Sweet. I’d add more salt next time. My cucumbers are not manky, they have balsamic vinegar on them.
Verdict: tasty, filling, not really sure what the sweet potato is for but sure why not?