Rice pudding is a favorite dish of mine, though I don’t have all that often. The dish that has been around for centuries, and has traveled around the globe from culture to culture, with few changes to the basic recipe – rice cooked until creamy with milk – along the way, if you look past the added spices and flavorings that tend to get thrown in. Perhaps it is the fact that the dish is so consistently similar from place to place and version to version that makes me overlook it in favor of cakes and other things at dessert. As an alternative, I decided to try something a little different with rice pudding and turn it into a breakfast dish. In place of cream or whipped cream, I folded thick Greek-style yogurt into my pudding for a light, fresh-tasting twist on a classic.
I started this rice pudding with leftover rice, rather than using uncooked rice and starting it from scratch. Usually, I prefer the later method, but it is good to have a recipe that uses leftover rice on hand for those occasions when you have a lot of cooked rice filling up the fridge – such as when you get chinese take-out and have an entire extra container of rice. The leftover container of rice was brown rice, in this case. I’ve found that brown rice is sturdier than many white rices, maintains a firmer feel after even a long cooking period and does not absorb quite as much liquid. While I generally shoot for a super creamy consistency in a strictly dessert rice pudding, I like the texture that the brown rice adds to this version of the pudding (which is creamy, just not quite as creamy as some I’ve had where the rice is cooked down to nothing). White rice will work here, too, if you don’t want to use brown.
The thick Greek yogurt (0% fat, from Trader Joe’s, although any kind is fine) folded in beautifully and made the pudding light, both texturally and nutritionally speaking. It gives the dish a little bit of tang, which makes it seem less rich and less indulgent than its whipped-cream enriched dessert counterpart, although it is no less delicious.
Yogurt Rice Pudding
2 cups leftover cooked rice (brown or white)
3 cups milk (low fat is fine)
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup raisins
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups plain Greek-style yogurt (low or nonfat is fine)
Combine cooked rice, milk, sugar and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and stir in the vanilla and raisins. Cook until just about all of the milk is absorbed (approx 45 minutes, depending on how absorbent your rice is) and pudding is thick.
Transfer pudding to a large bowl, cover and cool to room temperature. Fold in yogurt, then divide into individual dishes. Chill for at least 1 hour (or overnight) before serving.
Serve as-is, or with additional fruit.
Makes 6 servings.