Let me tell you a fun fact: before 1727 people said “carameled” instead of “caramelized”. But it meant the same thing then as it does now — cooking something with natural sugars until they turn a beautiful, deliciously-sweet brown color that adds flavor to every dish. This macaroni and cheese recipe includes caramelized sweet potatoes, giving an old, cheesy favorite a sweet twist. Mix these potatoes with a bunch of garlic, a handful of curly noodles, a dash of herbs and plenty of yummy Tillamook Cheese and you’ll find yourself with a satisfied belly. And THAT is a fun fact!
Caramelized Sweet Potato, Garlic & Rosemary Macaroni and Cheese
10 garlic cloves
1 large sweet potato (about 16 ounces), peeled and cut into ¼ – inch thick slices on the diagonal
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
8 ounces cavatappi pasta
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
4 tablespoons Tillamook Unsalted Butter
4 tablespoons flour
½ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups half-and-half
2 cups Tillamook Italian Blend Shredded Cheese
¾ cup shredded asiago cheese
1½ tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
¼ cup fresh bread crumbs from rustic Italian bread
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 2-quart baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes; remove cloves and place in ice water. When cloves have cooled, use a garlic press to press the blanched cloves; set aside.
Bring water back to a boil and add sweet potato slices and cook for 5 minutes or until tender; drain. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add sweet potatoes and cook, flipping occasionally, until they develop a caramelized crust (about 5 minutes). Dice sweet potatoes. Set aside.
Meanwhile, bring another large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain.
In a large pot over low heat, melt butter. Add flour and stir to combine. Cook, stirring constantly for 3 minutes. Increase the heat to medium, add in salt and pepper, and, with a wire whisk, gradually add the half-and-half. Bring to a boil while continuously stirring. Reduce heat, and then simmer for 1 minute. Stir 1¾ cup Italian shred and ½ cup asiago cheese until melted and smooth. Add the blanched pressed garlic, diced sweet potatoes, minced garlic, rosemary and cooked pasta. Stir to combine. Pour into greased casserole dish.
To make topping, combine remaining tablespoon olive oil, bread crumbs, ¼ cup Italian shred, and ¼ cup asiago cheese in a small mixing bowl. Stir until well combined. Sprinkle on top of pasta.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and the topping golden brown. Serve. Makes 8 servings.