By Anna Stockwell
Got cooked rice in your fridge? You're only 15 minutes away from dessert (or breakfast).
Ever found yourself with too much cooked rice in your fridge? I definitely have. I'll make a big batch with the good intentions of making lots of brown rice bowls for lunches, only to tire of the stuff a few days later. It's at this point, when the rice is sitting in the fridge, quickly drying out, that I know what I have to do. I have to make rice pudding.
Like a good risotto, making rice pudding from dried rice takes about half an hour of standing over the stove stirring. But if you start with already cooked rice, you cut the cooking time in half. You can use any kind of cooked rice: brown or white, short grain or long grain--they'll all work. And you can also use any kind of milk: cow or coconut, almond or rice, soy or oat--all are fair game.
You don't even need a recipe: just add however much leftover cooked rice you have to a pot, cover with milk (you'll need about equal parts rice and milk) and stir over medium heat until boiling. Once the milk boils, turn the heat down to medium-low and stir in your sweetener of choice. You can use white sugar, but for a healthier and more flavorful option, I like to use honey or maple syrup. Add just a little, stir it in, then taste; keep adding (and tasting!) until it's as sweet as you want it. (I like mine just barely sweetened, with a generous pinch of salt to bring out the sweetness.) Once you have the sugar where you want it, add some other flavors: lemon zest is nice, as is cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, vanilla, ginger, or even cocoa powder--you can push the flavor in whatever way you fancy. Keep stirring and tasting, adding more milk if necessary, until the cooked rice has expanded and softened and the mixture has reached your desired pudding consistency, about 15 minutes.
You can serve your rice pudding immediately, or let it cool to room temperature and store it in the fridge for a cold, fruit-topped breakfast or snack. The pudding will keep in your fridge for about 4 days. But unlike that bowl of cooked rice, it probably won't last that long.
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