Add sweet apples to this savory, cheesy comfort food.
- Makes: 4 servings of 1½ cups each
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Difficulty Rating: Intermediate
- Nutrition Highlights: By leaving the apples in this recipe unpeeled, you benefit with 45 percent more fiber and antioxidants.
- Recipe Created By: U.S. Apple Association
- 1¼ cup dry elbow macaroni
- 1½ cups small tart green or red apples, unpeeled and diced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- ¼ cup onion, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2¼ cups whole milk (lower fat milk may be substituted)
- 1 small bay leaf
- 2 ⅓ cups sharp white or yellow cheddar cheese, shredded
- ½ teaspoon dry sherry
- salt, to taste
- ground white pepper, to taste
- ⅓ cup plain panko (or regular bread crumbs)
- Heat oven to 350. Butter a 1½-quart round casserole dish; set aside.
- Cook pasta in a large saucepan according to package directions until al dente. Rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain and return pasta to saucepan. Add apples.
- Meanwhile, melt butter in medium heavy saucepan. Add onion and cook over medium heat about 3 minutes or until tender. Stir in flour; cook and stir about 1 minute or until fragrant.
- Slowly stir in milk with wire whisk. Bring mixture to a gentle simmer, stirring constantly. Add bay leaf. Reduce heat to low and cook sauce for 10 minutes, stirring often.
- Remove and discard bay leaf. Stir in 2 cups of the cheese and dry sherry. Cook and stir about 1 minute or until cheese is melted. Remove from heat; season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Add cheese sauce to pasta-apple mixture; gently stir until well combined. Transfer mixture to prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle with remaining ⅓ cup cheese and panko. Bake, uncovered, in preheated oven about 30 minutes or just until heated through and lightly browned. Let stand about 5 minutes before serving.