Updated: May 10, 2019
Are you bored of eating the same old plate of chicken, rice and veggies? Here's an easy substitute that you can use to transform your chicken and rice into a delicious pasta bake - rice noodles.
You'll find rice noodles in the Asian section of your grocery store. They are made of rice flour and water and are gluten free. Rather than use rice noodles as a substitute for regular pasta, they are also a perfect change from eating rice. Cooked rice noodles have the right consistency for pasta and they hold together like noodles should. This pasta bake combines all the foods that I normally eat to create a completely different meal. It's not a 'cheat meal', it's just real food.
This recipe is easily adapted for the athlete, hard gainer or your average, fit person if you just like eating pasta but pasta doesn't seem to like you. The difference is in the quantities. Like any meal or diet, the amount you eat should be tailored to your body and your goals.
Athlete or hard gainer
If you're building your calories and feel like you've reached the point of rice fatigue, rice noodles are an ideal substitute to add variety to your food sources and form the foundation for any of your favourite dishes that are pasta based. Plus, it's a lot easier to ramp up your calories from carbs using rice noodles than rice. If your body likes rice, then you'll tolerate rice noodles far better than say bread or pasta. I find that I don't bloat or feel quite as full after eating rice noodles as I do after eating regular pasta.
In 50 g of rice noodles, there's about 40 g of carbohydrate. This is a small amount of cooked noodles. If you have a moderate appetite, you're not going to have any trouble reaching the 100 g + carbohydrate threshold.
To boost your carbs, make this recipe and eat a large portion so that you consume a reasonable amount of chicken, cheese, veggies and sauce, and then cook another 100 g of rice noodles to add to your plate.
This is supposed to be a mess of a meal. Don't feel tied to the instructions! You can adjust the quantities or change ingredients, like the pancetta or cheese. So long as your choice of cooked ingredients make it to the dish and you add cheese on top, you can't lose.
Chicken and rice noodle bake
Golden baked cheese, tender chicken, a rich tomato sauce and easy to digest rice noodles - this is food for the soul at its best!
Total time: 60 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes (on stove) and 25 minutes (in oven)
Makes: 5 portions @ est. 405 calories | 30 g protein | 35 g carbohydrate | 15 g fat
500 g chicken thigh, meat only, chopped into chunks
1 tbsp butter
50 g pancetta, diced (or you can use bacon, choose quality small goods from your butcher)
1 red onion, chopped
1 red capsicum, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
2 tsps basil, ground
2 tsps oregano, flakes
1 tsp coriander, ground
Passata sauce, 500 g (natural, mainly just tomatoes and salt)
Rice noodles, 200 g
Extra sharp vintage cheddar cheese, 75 g
Parmesan cheese, 40 g
Fry pan to cook chicken and vegetables
Saucepan to boil noodles
Casserole dish to bake meal
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius.
Pan fry chicken in butter until golden and slightly crispy. Flip and cook on other side. This should take about 10 minutes each side.
Add pancetta, onion, capsicum and mushrooms to the pan.
Add basil, oregano and coriander to the pan to season. Combine ingredients in pan and fry until cooked, about 5 to 10 minutes.
Boil water in saucepan. Once boiling, add rice noodles and boil for 5 to 6 minutes. Drain. It's better to slightly under cook the noodles because they will continue to cook in the oven.
Place noodles in large casserole dish. Add chicken and vegetables.
Add passata to dish and fold to combine sauce, noodles, chicken and vegetables. Try not to break the noodles while you do this - it's nicer to keep the noodles intact.
Grate cheese on top and spread evenly. I used a combination of vintage cheddar and parmesan and grated an amount that's not too much, but not too little.
Place dish in oven to bake for about 20 minutes on the middle rack, and on the grill for 3 - 5 minutes until cheese melted and crisp. If you don't have a grill rack in your oven, bake on middle or top rack until cheese is ready and cooked to your liking.
Remember not to inhale your food. This meal is seriously easy to eat. Relax, eat at the table and enjoy in company.
If you're introducing rice noodles for something different, try adding a fresh salad to moderate your total portion - a generous side of fibrous vegetables makes it likely that you'll OD on the noodles.