Life has many surprises and I was stumped last weekend while grocery shopping with Ro-Ri San. As we entered the store, he said it would be nice to have some of the Baked Mac and Cheese I made the last time. “Seriously? With bacon bits?”, I asked. He said, “Yes, and some parsley, please!”. If this was coming from Ro-Jiro, I wouldn’t be at all surprise as my youngest son loves pasta and cheese. It must be the weather, but how can I refuse? While I picked out the rest of the ingredients, Ro-Ri San went to get the macaroni. He chose a gluten-free brown rice macaroni so that Ro-Taro would be able to eat it as well. Apprehension was setting in. Ro-Taro eating mac and cheese? We’ll see…
I decided to make it for lunch on Sunday. As I did not have a salad to accompany the dish, I added some cauliflower into the mac and cheese itself. I used rice flour for the sauce and substituted the panko breadcrumbs with crushed rice cereals. It was an easy dish to prepare and after a quick photo shoot, we were ready to sit down to eat. I gave Ro-Taro a very small portion and said that he could have more if he liked it. Of course, Ro-Jiro was more than happy. Everyone tucked in and to my pleasant surprise, Ro-Taro asked for more. Before long, the casserole dish was emptied!
I am thankful that we can now easily buy gluten-free pasta. This is the brown rice macaroni I used. It holds its shape well and is not starchy after boiling. Please use regular wheat macaroni and panko breadcrumbs, if you prefer, or check out my Baked Mac and Cheese with Panko and Bacon recipe.
- 8 oz (225g) brown rice macaroni
- 3 tbsp (45g) butter
- 2 tbsp rice flour
- 1 tsp dry mustard
- 2½ cups (600ml) low fat milk
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cups (8oz/225g) shredded cheese blend (mozzarella, cheddar, and Monterey Jack)
- 2 cups (225g) cauliflower florets
- ½ cup(g) chopped parsley
- ½ cup (55g) parmesan cheese
- 4 bacon rashers
- ¼ cup (30g) rice cereals, crushed
- Cook macaroni according to packaging instructions. Drain and rinse under cold water to get rid of starch.
- Place in a large bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon butter. Set aside.
- Grease an 9” deep casserole dish. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
- In a medium sized pot, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Stir in rice flour and dry mustard and cook for about 2 minutes. Gradually stir in milk. When it comes to a boil, season with salt and pepper. Add cheese blend and stir till melted. Stir in cauliflower and parsley. Turn off heat.
- Pour onto pasta and mix well. Dish into prepared casserole dish. Top with parmesan cheese and bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly.
- In the meantime, fry bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towel and crumble into bacon bits.
- Remove casserole from oven. Sprinkle crushed rice cereals and bacon bits onto pasta. Return to oven and bake for another 10 minutes.
- Remove and serve immediately.
Enjoy…..and have a wonderful day! 8)