Weeknight Cooking

Pasta with Sweet Potato, Goat Cheese and Sage

May  3, 2010

Pasta with Sweet Potatoes, Goat Cheese and Sage

- Jenny

My internal life is almost entirely animated by the things I would like to buy and eat, cook and eat, or purchase the ingredients for and fantasize about eating. My nightstand hosts an array of cookbooks and recipes. My kitchen is piled high with manila folders filled with clippings, some of them recipes I have made 100 times, some I am still mulling. I spend a lot of time trolling cooking blogs, usually this one, looking for inspiration.

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But once in a while, I am just not feeling it. The thought of chicken appalls me. I can’t face another slab of salmon. Pork chops, pea soup, turkey chili, sautéed whatever: blech, blech, blech and so what.

Whenever that happens, I go see my extremely cute herb guys, Kenter Canyon Farms, who have a stand at all the farmer’s markets I visit. I examine everything carefully, pick what looks best, and build my next meal around the herb. This week, the sage was bunny-ear soft and smelling like a meditation festival. I had to have it. So I popped it in the bag, got home, and looked here for a suitable recipe, and happened upon Sweet Potato, Goat Cheese and Sage Pasta Pileup.

Some of you – you know who you are – will argue that this recipe is less cooking than compiling. Really all you are doing is boiling (sweet potatoes and pasta), spreading (goat cheese), and dabbing (sage sautéed in some butter). And yet this dish forced me to use more pans than others far more complex. But I digress.

The thing is that sometimes what one needs is less a set of instructions to be used with multiple ingredients, but rather a new concept, easily executed, with things you already have or know well. Think of it as food you thought you just wanted to be friends with, but sort of decided you would really like to date.

I cooked everything here while attending to other forms of domestic slavery, stopping only to peel a little of this, drain a little of that. Tossing lasagna noodles with sweet potatoes, goat cheese and loads of butter and sage would not, as a unit, have come to me, but what I realized as I chowed it down is that it was really deconstructed ravioli. Yes the lasagna can be a but cumbersome, but just chop it up a lot.

The incipient vegetarian proclaimed it “great.” I do not agree with her assessment of “Glee,” but her view of Amreen’s attempt to get us through a Monday night is spot on.

Sweet Potato, Goat Cheese and Sage Pasta Pileup

By Amreen

Serves 8

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 8 ounces goat cheese
  • 1/2 pound lasagna noodles
  • 1 bunch sage
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring two pots of water to boil, meanwhile scrub the potatoes and stab them with a knife. Once the water is boiling toss in the potatoes and cook until easily impaled. This should take around 20 minutes.

2. Once the potatoes are done remove them from the heat; for a quick cool down, run cold water over them. Put the lasagna noodles in the other pot of boiling water and set the timer for about 10 minutes.

3. Once the potatoes are cooled, pinch off their skin. Cut them into small pieces and mash them up with the goat cheese. (Note: if you want them creamy heat them up a little while you are doing this). Salt to taste.

4. In a saucepan heat the butter on medium-low. Add the sage and cook until browned, about 4-5 minutes.

5. Drain the lasagna noodles. Place a few noodles on a plate and scoop some of the sweet potato mixture around them. Repeat this until all the noodles and mix are used up.

6. Crack some pepper on top and devour!

By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, is the Los Angeles Bureau Chief for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook.

Jennifer Steinhauer


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Amyrinco May 10, 2010
Loved the 1st paragraph...nice to know I'm not alone as I sit here with 7 new cookbooks for Mother's Day. Can't wait to make this. Thanks!
JenniferF May 6, 2010
I love this flavor combination but I make it a little differently. I roast the sweet potatoes (peeled and cubed) in olive oil with the sage (gets so crispy!) all seasoned with crushed red pepper, salt and pepper. Boil a nice pasta like cavatelli or cavatappi and when the potatoes are done, toss the sizzling potatoes with the hot pasta and some fresh spinach (it will wilt and nearly cook on contact) and serve with lots of crumbled goat cheese on top. Works well warm or at room temp as a side.
LisaBrooklyn May 4, 2010
This sounds amazing but I'm having trouble envisioning it--Jenny, any chance you can post a photo?
Jestei May 5, 2010
Actually if you click on the recipe in the text of my blog you will see amreen took a photo.
amreen May 4, 2010
Jenny I love ur herbalicious solution to those "what do i want for dinner days" im gonna have to try that instead of falling back on my go to thai food take out ;) I'm lookin forward to hearing folks opinions and variations :D
Jestei May 5, 2010
I look forwrad to cooking more of your recipes amreen.
annalea May 4, 2010
I made this tonight and mixed it up a little into more of a sauce and I used different pasta, but the flavor combination is spot on delicious! I served it to my parents who had (gasp) never eaten goat cheese and my mother didn't think she would like the sweet potatoes. What do you know, she ate the whole thing and loved it. I did chop the sage leaves in large pieces and mixed the brown butter and sage right into the sauce. I didn't fully mash the potatoes either so it had a bit of a rustic look. I think I'll keep playing with this one as I thought it was a winner and I love your description that it is like a deconstructed ravioli or lasagna. Excellent!
Jestei May 4, 2010
sounds great! curious which type of pasta you used?
amreen May 4, 2010
Its always so fun to introduce our folks to new things! Glad ur family enjoyed :D
annalea May 4, 2010
i used some whole wheat penne that my mom had in her pantry - it was great!
citizenstx May 4, 2010
"scoop some of the sweet potatoe "

You owe Dan Quayle an apology.
amreen May 4, 2010
Sadly enough I had to google the potatoe dan quayle connect to get it ... but am giving myself a pass as i was 13 at the time ;) Kinda scarry that we agree on something ... but i think potatoe is much cuter than potato ... its always fun to break the rules :P
drbabs May 3, 2010
It sounds a little heavy on the carbs to me, but I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who lays awake at night thinking about food.
Jestei May 3, 2010
A carbo shot is okay once in a while but I totally hear you......
mariaraynal May 3, 2010
Your internal life=my internal life. This is a rebellious recipe -- perfect for those nights when you're just not feeling it, which usually coincide with the nights when you want to carb out. You nailed it.
Jestei May 3, 2010
I went to dinner with some new friends the other night and realized on the drive home we spent three hours talking only of food. Is this wrong??
amreen May 4, 2010
thats exactly the kinda night i was having when i made this ;)
Annelle May 3, 2010
So, do you drizzle the browned sage butter over the finished product? And then the browned sage leaves go on top?
However you do it, it does sound intriguingly good!
Jestei May 3, 2010
Yes exactly -- dump the sage butter in and give it a good mix. I did find the leaves a bit toothsome or something so you might want to do some chopping as I did not bother to do.
WinnieAb May 3, 2010
Sounds kind of fantastic, actually!
Jestei May 3, 2010
So make it and let us know!