Monday, October 24, 2011

Coconut Quinoa Pudding

Growing up in a Portuguese community in Massachusetts, Portuguese rice pudding, or sweet rice, was a very common dessert, served warm or cold. Recently, on a cold rainy weekend, I wanted dessert. I didn't want to drive to the store, and I didn't want something that required a lot of hands on time. I know, picky, picky.

For some reason, rice pudding popped into my head. Then, coconut rice pudding (very un-Portuguese) popped into my head. Then quinoa as a replacement for rice popped into my head (couldn't be because I had cooked quinoa in the fridge, could it?). I googled coconut rice pudding, got a handle on the basic technique, and went to work.

Coconut Quinoa Pudding (makes 4 small servings)
  • 1 1/2 C quinoa, cooked
  • 1 can coconut milk (13 oz can)
  • pinch of salt 
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 pods ground cardamom 
  • 1 tsp lemon or lime juice (optional)
  • flaked coconut and/or toasted almonds for garnish (optional)
1. In a small sauce pan, mix together the quinoa, coconut milk, salt, vanilla and cardamom and bring to a boil, stirring carefully to avoid scorching. 
2. Simmer, uncovered, on low heat, stirring often, until thickened.
3. Stir in the lemon or lime juice if using. Sprinkle on the coconut and almonds if desired. 

Kitchen Notes: In this recipe, the bitterness of the quinoa can ruin the flavor. Be sure to rinse the quinoa before cooking. It's possible that this would have been better using raw quinoa cooked in the coconut milk, but I was trying to use leftovers efficiently. Normally, I love my spice grinder, but for cardamom, my mortar and pestle make far faster work than the spice grinder.

Verdict? I really enjoyed this, but it's certainly not for everyone. A mild bitterness from the quinoa is unavoidable. Using quinoa is a nice alternative to, but not substitute for, rice. Let's not kid ourselves--the use of quinoa did not transform this dessert into healthfood, but it did boost its nutrition content.

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