Secretly healthy apple mac and cheese

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Bacon and apple mac and cheese at its best with slices of apple and a creamy sauce and hidden veggies

Curling up in front of the TV with a bowl of mac and cheese has to be the ultimate comfort night in!
 
And out of all of the mac and cheese recipes out there, this is our favourite! It’s not only tasty but secretly healthy as well. 
 
Deliciously creamy baked apple mac and cheese is cooked with sweet pink lady apples, tangy Gruyere cheese, crunchy bacon cubes and a dash of nutmeg. We’ve even included spinach! 
 
The smaller amounts of cheese and the use of milk over cream, make this recipe that little bit lighter too.
 
Your little ones will love this dish so much they won’t even notice the hidden veg.

Summary

Prep: 10 minutes
Cooking: 30 minutes
Ages: Toddlers to Teens
Difficulty: Easy peasy
Makes: 4 bowls

Bacon and apple mac and cheese at its best with slices of apple and a creamy sauce and hidden veggies

How do you make the perfect mac and cheese?

  • Make sure your pasta is cooked al dente (with a little bit of bite) before you put it in the oven to bake. Your pasta will carry on cooking in the oven and you don’t want it too be too stodgy.  A little bit of firmness also pairs nicely with luxurious creaminess of bacon macaroni and cheese.
  • Always grate your own cheese; try to avoid buying pre-grated cheese which is coated in starch to keep the shredded pieces from sticking together. If you want that ultimate creamy cheesy deliciousness, go for a high quality cheese that you grate by hand. We’ve used Gruyere for its uniquely tangy flavour that pairs well with bacon and apples. But use whichever cheese you prefer.
  • Feel free to add your own veggies. We’ve used spinach, but you could also add peas, leeks, broccoli florets or mushrooms. Mac and cheese is the perfect casserole to get creative with and tastes great with veggies.

 

Ingredients

Bacon and apple mac and cheese:

  • 77 grams of bacon chopped up or pancetta cubes
  • 2 cups uncooked elbow or tubular pasta (about 160 grams) – any kind will work
  • 2 tablespoons butter (30 grams)
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 1 small yellow onion – peeled and chopped
  • 1 pink lady apple – chopped (skin on)
  • 1 handful spinach chopped (40 grams)
  • 5 cups milk
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup grated Gruyère (or another other cheese) – 75 grams

Topping:

  • 3 tablespoons grated gruyere cheese
  • Chopped parsley to garnish

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180℃.
  2. Cook the macaroni according to package directions in salted boiling water. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a separate frying pan, cook the bacon pieces or pancetta cubes until crispy and golden. Set aside.
  4. Take a large saucepan and heat the butter. Add in the chopped onion and apple and sear for a few minutes.
  5. Stir in the flour and slowly pour in the milk, a bit at a time, constantly stirring to stop lumps appearing. Add the salt and nutmeg.
  6. Bring the mixture to the boil for a few minutes, then take off the heat.
  7. Immediately stir in 1 cup of grated Gruyere cheese.
  8. Add in the chopped spinach and the cooked pasta.
  9. Finally, add the cooked bacon pieces or pancetta cubes.
  10. Empty the mixture into a greased oven dish.
  11. Sprinkle 3 further tablespoons of grated cheese over the top and cook in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden.
  12. Sprinkle with parsley to serve. Enjoy!

Bacon and apple mac and cheese – our step by step guide:

1

Bacon and apple mac and cheese at its best with slices of apple and a creamy sauce and hidden veggies
1

Boil your macaroni

Boil your pasta according to the instructions on the packet in salted water.

Try not to overcook it. You still want it to have that little bit of bite.

When the pasta is done cooking, drain it and set aside.

2

Bacon and apple mac and cheese at its best with slices of apple and a creamy sauce and hidden veggies
2

Cook your bacon or pancetta cubes

If you’re using bacon slices, cut them into small pieces. For pancetta slice it into tiny cubes.

In a frying pan cook your bacon or pancetta pieces until they’re golden and crispy.  

Remove and set aside on a paper towel.

3

Bacon and apple mac and cheese at its best with slices of apple and a creamy sauce and hidden veggies
3

Sear your apple slices

Heat your butter in a large saucepan.   

Put your chopped apple and onion into the butter and sear them.

You only need to cook them for a few minutes, or the apples will get too mushy.

4

Bacon and apple mac and cheese at its best with slices of apple and a creamy sauce and hidden veggies
4

Create your creamy sauce

Now sprinkle in your flour and stir until it combines with the butter and apples.  

Slowly add in your milk, a little bit at a time, stirring continuously to prevent lumps from forming. 

Season your sauce with the salt and nutmeg.

Bring the mixture to the boil for a few minutes and then turn off the heat.

You should end up with a thick and creamy sauce.

5

Bacon and apple mac and cheese at its best with slices of apple and a creamy sauce and hidden veggies
5

Stir in your cheese

While still warm, add in your 1 cup of Gruyere or chosen grated cheese. 

Stir in until it has melted and everything is rich and creamy.

6

Bacon and apple mac and cheese at its best with slices of apple and a creamy sauce and hidden veggies
6

Add in the macaroni

Now stir in the cooked bacon pieces, chopped spinach and boiled pasta.

7

Bacon and apple mac and cheese at its best with slices of apple and a creamy sauce and hidden veggies
7

Bake your apple mac and cheese

Pop everything into an ovenproof dish and sprinkle your extra cheese over the top.

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.  

The top should be bubbly and golden. Garnish with parsley and enjoy!

 

Enjoy while warm!

 

Bacon and apple mac and cheese at its best with slices of apple and a creamy sauce and hidden veggies

 

Bacon and apple mac and cheese at its best with slices of apple and a creamy sauce and hidden veggies

 

Bacon and apple mac and cheese at its best with slices of apple and a creamy sauce and hidden veggies

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5 from 3 votes

Secretly healthy apple mac and cheese

Delicious and creamy baked apple mac and cheese, made with sweet Pink Lady Apples, tangy Gruyere cheese, smoky bacon and a dash of nutmeg. We’ve even included spinach! Our recipe also has smaller amounts of cheese than traditional mac and cheese, making it that little bit lighter.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword apple mac and cheese, bacon mac and cheese, mac and cheese, macaroni cheese
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4 small bowls
Author Mas & Pas

Ingredients

Bacon and apple mac and cheese

  • 77 grams bacon chopped up or pancetta cubes
  • 2 cups uncooked elbow or tubular pasta about 160 grams
  • 2 tbsp butter 30 grams
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 1 pink lady apple chopped (skin on)
  • 1 handful spinach chopped (40 grams)
  • 5 cups milk
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup Gruyère cheese grated

Topping

  • 3 tbsp Gruyère cheese grated
  • Parsley to garnish

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 180℃.
  • Cook the macaroni according to package directions in salted boiling water. Drain and set aside.
  • In a separate frying pan, cook the bacon pieces or pancetta cubes until crispy and golden. Set aside.
  • Take a large saucepan and heat the butter. Add in the chopped onion and apple and sear for a few minutes.
  • Stir in the flour and slowly pour in the milk, a bit at a time, constantly stirring to stop lumps appearing. Add the salt and nutmeg.
  • Bring the mixture to the boil for a few minutes, then take off the heat.
  • Immediately stir in 1 cup of grated Gruyere cheese.
  • Stir in the chopped spinach and the cooked pasta.
  • Finally, add the cooked bacon pieces or pancetta cubes.
  • Empty the mixture into a greased oven dish.
  • Sprinkle 3 further tablespoons of grated cheese over the top and cook in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden.
  • Sprinkle with parsley to serve. Enjoy!