Last year, I read about a method for making leftover rice pudding that used rice’s starchiness as a natural thickener, activated by a slow simmer with the liquid of your choice–coconut milk, half and half, whole milk, or a mix.
Immediately, I thought about how this might work as a savory rice pudding instead of a sweet one. Immediately after that, I had a feeling that I’d replace all the sugar with grated cheese. The result, which I’ve been making for lunches on days when there’s extra rice, tastes a lot like mac ‘n cheese but with rice instead of pasta.
With mac ‘n cheese, you have to add flour to the béchamel sauce. In most recipes, that’s what turns plain milk into a sauce that can insinuate itself into pasta shapes. But with this recipe, the rice releases enough starch into the milk that the dish thickens of its own accord. By the time 40 minutes are up, you’ll find your milk turned into a thick sauce. Stir in cheese, as much as you like, and whatever kind you like or have, and lunch is ready. A green salad is nice, but you can also one-bowl this and get your vegetable intake at another meal.