roast kumara & blue cheese pasta with caramelised onions

Well this is bloody unusual – it is not the morning, and I am not in bed with a cup of tea – I am sitting at my computer like a proper person! The weird reason is that I am shooting with Cuisine tomorrow and have had a quick manicure this afternoon as one of my hands might make it into the shot…consequently I can’t do anything much in case I smear my nail polish, but tapping on my computer is fine. Oh my God I am so zombied out at the moment, the last six weeks leading up to the launch of the book have been monumental, then there was the launch itself and having my darling men/boys to stay. Unfortunately Hoob was only here for two nights ( I’m heading to Welly to see him for his birthday in two weeks, hurrah, can’t wait), but Pog and Will stayed on for a week and we had such a fabulous chilled time…haha, or I did any way. I cooked a couple of nights (the ultimate vege burgers from the book one night and pizzas the other), we had a delicious dinner at Amano another, and the compulsory Thai takeaways for their final night. It is such a huge reminder of how quiet it is to live by yourself when there are other people in the house. Poor guys, I maxed out my hug quota as if I could bank them for the future! Any waaay they headed back to Melbourne on Saturday afternoon so it is back to sad-arse dinners for one for the moment.

Whoops, so obsessed with having the boys here I forgot to talk about the food – this is a vego take on mac and cheese that I made for Hoobie’s last visit and which appeared in Fairfax newspapers last week. The flavours are some of my old favourites – sweet kumara and caramelised onion, sharp salty blue cheese and fragrant, fresh rosemary all bound in a silky cheesy sauce with big tubey pasta – cooked ’til golden with a fine crumbling of crunchy crumbs on top. It is making me hungry just writing about it…(gurgly stomach noises in protest).

And finally, I have been doing a few media-type events lately, chatting on the radio with Toni, Sarah and Sam on the Hits, Jesse Mulligan at Radio NZ, Helen Jackson and Tony Murrell at Radio Live, Mel Homer on the Mix aaaand Brian Kelly on Coast. Phew! All such lovely people who made me feel relaxed and welcome. Then there was my Milly’s book signing where they served a delicious batch of my salted caramel cheesecake bites and a fabulous event at the Northern Club where I got the old slideshow out (kind of) and did a presentation. Add to that the story I did with Dish in the latest issue and the video I did for Stuff and it’s been non-stop! Busy times. And it’s not over yet…

COMING EVENTS – this Saturday 30th September I will be signing books at Sabato in Mt Eden, Auckland between 12 and 2pm then on Friday 6th October I will be at Moore Wilson’s in Wellington from 12noon until 1pm. It is so much fun meeting people who have cooked my recipes or are keen to try, so please do come along and say hi if you fancy! Finally, my nails are dry so I had better go…don’t forget if you are keen to buy a copy of Coming Unstuck it is available at Whitcoulls, Milly’s, Moore Wilson’s and Brown & Co in Welly, selected Paper Plus stores, Flotsam & Jetsam in Ponsonby and here on the website. If you know of a retailer who might be interested in stocking the book (hello anyone have a contact at Williams Sonoma or Anthropologie in the US while I think about it!?), they can contact me for details. Right, better get busy – have a great week and I will see you again on Friday with another new recipe…

Serves 6

caramelised onions:
¼ cup olive oil
5 medium red onions, peeled and sliced  – aim for thin slices
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons caster sugar
sea salt and black pepper to taste
small pinch chilli flakes, optional

Heat olive oil in a big heavy based pot. Add onions and salt and cook over a medium heat for 25-30 minutes until nice and soft, stirring every once in a while so that they don’t catch on the bottom. In between stirring, half cover with the pot lid – I always rest it on the wooden spoon laid across the top of the pot, so it is mostly covered, but not completely. After half an hour add balsamic vinegar and sugar, remove lid completely and cook a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you like a little heat, throw the chilli flakes in now too. Once you add the sugar the onions will brown up more and go more caramelisey – if your heat is a little low, you might want to increase it a bit now. If the onions seem a little dry add an extra tablespoon of olive oil and stir through then season with salt and black pepper. Leave to cool then spoon into a sealable jar or container.

1 yellow kumara (sweet potato)
1 orange kumara (sweet potato)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons runny honey
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon chilli flakes
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 cup caramelised onions (see recipe above or use store bought)
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup flour
2 ¼ cups whole milk
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup tasty cheese, grated plus 1 tablespoon
50g blue cheese crumbled (plus extra 50g, optional)
250g pasta shells, tubes or macaroni
3 slices white toast bread, crusts removed
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves plus extra to garnish

Preheat the oven to 180˚C (350˚F).  Peel and chop the kumara into roughly 4cm pieces and put in a roasting dish. Drizzle with oil and honey and sprinkle with cumin seeds, chilli flakes, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast for 15 minutes until just soft. Heat three tablespoons of the butter in a saucepan over a gentle heat until just melted. Whisk in the flour then add the  milk in three lots, stirring continuously, until well incorporated. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg. Whisk while cooking over the heat until the sauce is thickened and smooth. If it misbehaves, just whisk it vigorously again until smooth – it should finish thick and silky. Add the cheese at the end of heating and stir well to combine. Cook the pasta for one minute less than the packet instructions advise, in plenty of salted, boiling water until only just al dente. Drain well. Add the drained pasta and cheese sauce to the kumara, add onion and stir to combine. Spoon the pasta mixture into a 25cm x 30cm baking dish. Roughly chop the bread and put in a food processor with the remaining butter, rosemary leaves and the tablespoon of cheese. Whiz to form crumbs and sprinkle over pasta. If you are a hard-core blue cheese fan, now is the time to add the rest of it crumbled on top, but it is  also great ‘as is’. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden. Serve sprinkled with reserved rosemary leaves.



  1. I saw this recipe and immediately knew what I wanted to eat for dinner tonight!
    Such a good comfort recipe! Really enjoyed eating it!

  2. Hey Sarah! New visitor to your blog here! I’ve tried some lovely recipes of yours in Dish which I subscribe to and just read the excerpt from your new book in the current issue. I’m over in Aus and love NZ and your food and wine scene. Anyway made this for dinner tonight and it was easy enough to do with a 3 month old and my husband, three year old and I all LOVED it. Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Jodie – that’s so brilliant, I’m glad everyone enjoyed it – yay, thanks for the feedback! 🙂

  3. I have been eyeing up this recipe for ages! Finally got round to making it for tea tonight, gutted I waited so long to do so it is amazing!! So tasty & flavoursome, can’t wait to try more of your recipes 🙂

    1. Hi Laura – apologies for the late reply – I see I have a whole lot of comments in a new file waiting to be answered…I use two medium sized kumara, and it would be totally fine to have all orange. Hope you enjoyed it!

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