Rice macaroni is macaroni pasta made from rice or rice flour. A wide assortment of pasta shapes can be made with rice flour, with rice macaroni being one of the more readily available pasta shapes, thanks to the enduring popularity of macaroni. Some major supermarkets carry rice macaroni, and it can also be purchased at health food stores and through specialty purveyors who focus on gluten-free or wheat-free offerings.
There are several reasons for people to turn to rice macaroni instead of the more conventional wheat macaroni. Some people avoid wheat in their diets, because they are sensitive to wheat and they would like to avoid upsetting their stomachs and intestinal tracts. Other people are sensitive to gluten, a component of wheat and some other grains, and they avoid wheat pasta along with products which include rye or barley. Other people simply like the taste and texture of rice macaroni.
Just like rice itself, rice macaroni comes in a range of guises. Some companies manufacture it with polished white rice, creating a pale pasta with a relatively simple flavor. Others use brown rice, which generates a more coarse, gritty pasta which can have a slightly nutty flavor and a dark color. Rice macaroni can also be dyed or blended with vegetables to make spinach macaroni, tomato macaroni, and so forth.
Preparing rice macaroni is much like preparing regular pasta: cooks bring a pot of water to a boil, add the pasta, and cook until it is tender. However, the pasta will give off a lot of starch during the cooking process, turning the water milky, and it can start to stick together. It's a good idea to use an extra-large pot to cook rice macaroni, and to stir it frequently so that it does not have a chance to adhere. Rice macaroni is also very unforgiving when it comes to cooking time; there's a fine line between resilient, firm pasta and mush.
Once cooked, rice macaroni can be used exactly like regular macaroni. It can be baked in casseroles like the classic macaroni and cheese, added to soups, eaten plain, or served with a variety of sauces. Rice macaroni can also be used in chilled pasta salads and any other dishes the cook might imagine.
For people who purchase rice macaroni for food sensitivity reasons, it is a very good idea to check the package in the store. Sometimes it is manufactured in a company which also processes wheat or gluten-containing grains, which means that it can become contaminated.