I’ve always loved rice pudding. It’s simple, comfy-cozy, and fits the bill for the not too sweet but still satisfying afternoon snack. It’s in my genes to like rice pudding. A Danish specialty, our family has a traditional recipe that contains a single almond hidden within the snowy-white centre–a token of good luck for the year ahead. It’s traditionally served on Christmas eve, which is just 364 days too long to wait between rice pudding-eating opportunities for me (although, I don’t remember eating it on that day), so I make my own recipe variations throughout the year–no special holiday required!
Rice pudding is sweet risotto. That’s it. A little stirring now and you’ve got yourself a comfort-food classic that can be eaten for breakfast, an afternoon snack, or dessert. I’ve made my version with short grain brown rice, my absolute favourite grain, creamy greek yogurt, juicy honeycrisp apple, and a hint of maple syrup and cinnamon. It tastes like apple pie a la mode, and that’s never a bad thing.
This recipe has versatility. If you’re dairy-free, replace the yogurt with coconut cream or a coconut yogurt. If you’re not a fan of maple syrup, try honey. And apple can be replaced for pear or another sturdy, cold weather fruit. What I would recommend you keep is the short grain brown rice as it gives the risotto a muted, nutty flavour and chewy texture that’s really very pleasing. Brown rice also has so much more nutrition in it, not to mention flavour, than its white counterpart. To make this even easier, the brown rice is pre-cooked (our little secret).
Speaking of versatility, you could make this a savoury risotto with cubes of butternut squash in place of the apple, thyme instead of cinnamon, a hit of black pepper, a touch more of salt, a squeeze of lemon, and skip the sweetener altogether, replacing it with olive oil. Cheater’s risotto at its finest.
Call it sweet risotto, call it rice pudding, call is rice custard–it’s simple, healthy, and full of that stick to your ribs goodness that I can’t get enough of this time of year. Just think of this recipe as a delicious Italian-Danish cuisine marriage. What a tasty union indeed.
- ½ cup uncooked short grain brown rice
- 1 cup water
- 2 apples, peel left intact, cored, and diced
- 1.5 cups water (or a mixture of almond milk and water)
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- ⅓ cup plain greek yogurt or plain non-dairy yogurt, plus more to garnish
- 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tbsp chopped almonds (optional)
- Add brown rice to a large saucepan along with 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 40 to 50 minutes, until all water is absorbed and rice is tender.
- To cooked rice, add apples, additional 11/2 cups water, and sea salt. Bring to a boil and reduce to medium-low. Cook, uncovered, stirring often for 30 minutes, until apples are tender and rice is creamy. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
- Add remaining ingredients, stir to combine, and serve immediately, or chill for at least 3 hours, until cold. Serve with a dollop of yogurt, chopped almonds, and sprinkle of cinnamon (optional).
- Store leftover risotto in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 4 days.