Smoky Mac ‘n Cheese with Sautéed Apples

So when I first saw the name for this recipe, I envisioned the apples as an integral part of the mac ‘n cheese giving a tart little surprise crunch to each soft, comforting bite. Being a big fan of apple, cheddar and onion pizza, this seemed like a natural evolution. But I was wrong. The apples are supposed to be served alongside of the pasta. So the recipe below is for the dish as it was originally intended, but I encourage you to try it any way you like - separate like two islands on your plate or merged into something new. Try sauteing the apple slices with the leeks just enough so they start to tenderize but not so long they lose their integrity. Then mix them directly into the pasta. If you can mix lobstah’ into mac ‘n cheese, why not apples?

Ingredients:

  • 5 firm apples

  • 1 tsp lemon zest

  • 1 Tbs sugar or honey (optional)

  • 2 Tbs butter

  • 4 medium leeks

  • 1 Tbs olive oil

  • 3/4 lb macaroni, penne or other scoop-shaped pasta

  • 3 Tbs butter

  • 8 oz. smoked Swiss cheese, grated

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Chopped chives

Directions:

Peel, core and slice the apples.  Toss them with the lemon zest and honey or sugar. Melt the butter in a skillet, and sauté the apple slices till lightly caramelized and soft but not mushy.  Set aside, and keep warm.

Clean, wash, and chop the leeks.  Sauté in the olive oil till soft. 

While the leeks are cooking, boil water, and cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.  When the pasta is al dente, drain.  Toss with butter, cheese, sautéed leeks, salt and pepper. Garnish with the chopped chives.

Serve the mac ‘n cheese with the sautéed apples on the side.  Bite in and feel the love.