Creamy, delicious baked penne pasta with bites of tender chicken and hunks of sweet potato in a cheddar Parmesan sauce.
Mac & cheese that eats like an entire meal.
Parmesan cheese gives it a slight Italian twist along with garlic and Italian seasoning.
There’s a dreamy cheese sauce that starts with sauteing garlic in butter, adding flour to make a roux – the thickener for the sauce – plus milk, a touch of Dijon mustard, Italian seasoning, shredded sharp cheddar, and Parmesan.
It has a crunchy topping made of Panko crumbs mixed with even more Parmesan and once it comes out of the oven, all hot and bubbly, it’s garnished with a smattering of crispy bacon.
Because bacon and sweet potato are bffs.
This here is my new bff.
The best of two worlds.
Mac & cheese meets Italian baked pasta and it’s a beautiful thing.
- 2 medium sweet potatoes
- 12 ounces penne pasta
- sea or kosher salt and fresh black pepper
- 1 + ½ cups cooked, chopped chicken
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 minced cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 + ½ cups milk
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¾ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese plus 1 tablespoon for the top
- 2 tablespoons Japanese panko crumbs
- 2 - 3 slices bacon
- 1 scallion, snipped with kitchen scissors
- Wash, dry and prick the sweet potatoes a few times with a fork. Place them on a microwave-safe plate and microwave 6 minutes. Turn them over and microwave in
1 minuteincrements until fork tender. Let them cool.
- Cook the pasta according to package directions to al dente. Drain, toss with a tablespoon of butter, cover and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9x9- inch casserole dish.
- In a large, heavy-duty saucepan melt the butter over medium-low heat and add the garlic. Cook 1 - 2 minutes stirring often.
- Add the flour and cook 2 - 3 minutes while stirring.
- Slowly whisk in the milk, mustard, Italian seasoning, ¾ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring to a simmer.
- Simmer 3 minutes, stirring often.
- Turn the heat down to low and stir in the cheddar ½ cup at a time, stirring until completely melted. Stir in the Parmesan. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed. Remove from heat.
- Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into cubes.
- Add the pasta to the casserole dish with the sweet potatoes and chicken, toss together so everything is evenly distributed.
- Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta.
- Mix 1 tablespoon Parmesan with the
bread crumbs. Sprinkle over top.
- Bake 25 minutes until bubbly all over and golden on top.
Meanwhilealongside the pasta cook the bacon. Line a small baking pan with foil and spread the bacon out in one layer. Bake until crisp about 10 minutes.
- Drain on paper towels and crumble.
servesprinkle the bacon and scallions over top of the casserole. Let it sit 5 minutes before serving.
Originally published in Nov. 2015.