Vanilla Rice Pudding

Amazingly, for someone who ate rice almost every day for the first 20 years of her life, I never had rice pudding before a few years ago. I haven’t quite made up for this defecit, but learning how easy it is to make rice pudding certainly points me in the right direction.

The recent soggy weather we’ve been experiencing only makes one crave warm comforting foods, and what is more comforting than rice simmered gently in vanilla scented milk?!

This was the first time I’ve ever used a real vanilla bean… or even seen one in real life. The scent from a real vanilla bean is just heavenly… it’s sweet, floral, and soft, unlike the concentrated pungency from a bottle of vanilla extract. I cut it in half, split the bean lengthwise, and dropped it into my simmering milk with arborio rice and just a bit of sugar. Let me tell you, the delicious vanilla fragrance that began to waft from my saucepan almost made me want to take whole darn pot and curl up in bed with it. Seriously.

I just can’t get over the real vanilla… look at all those cute little seeds!!

In the end, my pudding was on the runny side; I blame this on my over-cautiousness in cooking rice on the stove (see irrepressible but substantiated fear here). I was not quite at a simmer for a lot of the cooking time (partly due to another fear of burning the milk at the bottom of the pan) and as a result, after 45 minutes, I had not quite evaporated enough milk though my rice was soft and plump. Though this was all OK with me, since I would totally bottle up the excess milk, in all its slightly thickened and sweetened vanilla glory, and drink it on its own. P.S. Thank goodness I have fully functioning lactase enzyme, unlike the 90% of my asian ancestors and my dad (Hi Dad!). Regardless of the excess milk… it was still lovely and just what I needed on a gusty winter night with the rain was beating down furiously, so loud that it seemed to be raining IN my living room… oh wait, it WAS.

morning after the storm

This is a shout-out to the company that manages our apartment building, who has had to repair our ceiling and the roof twice in the 2 years we’ve lived there (and once before we even moved in) and has taken no action the last 2 times we had called this winter about leakiness during rainstorms. You guys are awesome.

Anyway, back to the yummy pudding:

Arborio Rice Pudding

adapted from Smitten Kitchen, for a more decadent version with cream, try Kiss My Spatula

1/2 cup arborio rice
4 cups milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (or 1 teaspoon pure extract, added at the end)
1/4 cup sugar

  1. In a large saucepan, place all the ingredients, except vanilla extract if using. Bring to a gentle boil, then turn it down to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking to the bottom, for about 30-40 minutes. Taste the rice to check it for doneness. The rice should be very soft and plump.
  2. Take the pudding off the heat and stir in the extract. Serve immediately, or chill and store in the fridge. Makes about 4 servings.