Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Sweet potato and pimento cheese pasta bake

"Potato Patata" 
 A few days ago I made a pimento cheese dip without realizing it. Or I made a cousin to the pimento cheese; I didn’t use pimento peppers, I used regular red bell peppers and I roasted them. Our church opened a small library and my mother asked me to make some refreshments. So I made a spinach cheese dip a roasted red pepper cheese dip and some ginger bbq chicken tenders. That roasted red pepper cheese dip (aka pimento cheese dip) has reincarnated itself into this baked pasta dish and it is fabulous.

The cheese dips were a hit to say the least. Due to the fact that the turn out was a little lower than my mom expected (it is a library) I had about half portion of dip left over.  I hate when food goes to waste and was really trying to figure out how to utilize the dips in a recipe for potato month. My mom’s friend made sure to swipe the remaining spinach dip which she loved, so I was left with this faux pimento cheese. And for my Jamaicans out there, this pimento I speak of is the pimento pepper, cousin to the red bell pepper not our beloved allspice. 

Let’s talk about the dip for a minute. In a word…epic! It’s so flavorful and delicious it’s insane. I repeat, the flavor is out of this world. And to think I made it right on the spot, came up with it last minute and was just messing around and trying to figure out a delicious cheese dip. The roasted red pepper, onions garlic and all the cheeses made the perfect marriage. The key to the cheese dip is to make it overnight and allow the flavors to develop. Our cheese dip was in the refrigerator for three days before I made this pasta. So you know the flavors were intense! The ingredients and method are beyond simple. I feel like I say everything I make is simple. But you must understand I am the queen of efficiency (or lazy).  I don’t think we should have to work too hard to have beautiful results in the kitchen. So I try to cook smarter not harder. And when it comes to food, there are rules, but then there are no rules. Mix and match taste, do over and make things that you like.

So here I was with some left over pimento cheese, a box of pasta and some sweet potatoes. The resulting dish was so yum. Sweet potatoes add a unexpected texture with the pasta and add a nice sweetness. My mother devoured about  1/3 of the dish of pasta raving about how flavorful it was and how she can’t believe I used the cheese dip to make this. So there is your stamp of approval; its yummy! 

Ingredients (printable recipe)

Pimento cheese
2 roasted red peppers
8 oz Pepper jack cheese
8 oz Cream cheese
8 oz Sharp white cheddar
4 oz parmesan cheese
Between ¼ and ½  cup milk
1 teaspoon Smoked paprika
¼ cup Onion
1 stalk Scallion
4 cloves Garlic
½ teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Onion powder
¼ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon Black pepper
1-2 boiled Japanese sweet potatoes
1 box cooked penne pasta
1 cup pepper jack cheese to top
Garnish with scallions or fresh chopped parsley


For the roasted red pepper

  • Place pepper on an open flame, one pepper per burner
  • Char on all sides until the peppers are completely black
  • Place in a sealed container and allow it to steam for 8 to 10 minutes
  • For easy peeling I run my peppers under the faucet and remove the charred skin
  • Slice the peppers and remove the seeds and use as needed.

For the pimento cheese dip

  • Combine all the ingredients for pimento cheese in a food processor or blender and blend until it makes a smooth slightly chunky mixture. The milk is an approximation you may need more or less depending on how chunky or runny you like your dips. So add a little at a time in between blending until you get the consistency.
  • Set aside in the refrigerator over night

For the pasta

  • Next day place oven to preheat to 475 degrees
  • Boil pasta
  • Peel and boil sweet potatoes, once cooked slice into bite sized cubes
  • Boil pasta to al dente strain and keep hot
  • In a bowl stir together the hot pasta, sweet potatoes and pimento cheese dip
  • Place in a baking dish and spread with pepper jack cheese on top.
  • Bake until golden brown
  • Allow to slightly cool then serve garnish with scallions and or fresh chopped parsley 

Xoxo Greedygirl

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