About this recipe:If you're trying to eat better but still love your comfort food, this is for you. Likewise, this is a great way to get kids to eat their veg without them knowing it! A lovely macaroni cheese that tastes every bit as indulgent, but with some added goodness.
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 (397g) tin evaporated milk
1 pinch red chilli flakes, or to taste
1 pinch ground nutmeg, or to taste
salt and pepper to taste
125g tinned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
60g dried breadcrumbs
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
250g mashed sweet potatoes
250ml soured cream
225g grated mild Cheddar cheese, divided
60g grated mature Cheddar cheese, divided
2 tablespoons butter
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Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to the boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling, stir in the macaroni, and return to the boil. Cook the pasta uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the pasta has cooked through, but is still very firm to the bite, about 5 minutes. Drain well in a colander set in the sink, and rinse with cold water until cold; set aside.
Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour, and stir until the mixture becomes paste-like and light golden brown, about 5 minutes. Gradually whisk the evaporated milk and water into the flour mixture, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Season to taste with red chilli flakes, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Cook and stir until the mixture is thick and smooth, 10 to 15 minutes.
Preheat an oven to 180 C / Gas 4. Grease a 20x30cm baking dish.
Place the chickpeas into a blender. Cover, and puree until smooth. Scrape the puree into a small bowl and stir in the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese; set aside.
Once the sauce has thickened, whisk in the sweet potatoes and soured cream; return to a simmer. Whisk in half of the Cheddar cheeses until melted. Stir in the macaroni until well coated with the sauce, then pour half into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining Cheddar cheeses overtop, then cover with the remaining macaroni. Smooth the top, then dot with the chickpea mixture and the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.
Bake in the preheated oven until the sauce is bubbly, and the top is golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Allow the dish to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Instead of mashed sweet potato, you could also try mashed butternut squash in this recipe.