Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding

It’s that time of year when we start hibernating. The holidays are over and we’re just biding our time till Spring. It’s been very cold here in Utah the last few weeks and haven’t seen the thermostat hover much above thirty degrees. I bundle up with sweaters and wool socks and huddle under blankets, but still my fingers and toes are still perpetually frozen.

Rice and vanilla beans

The solution for that? Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding.

Steaming pudding

The act of standing at the stove stirring this pudding for a half hour or so was enough to heat me up. It was also very therapeutic— stirring, stirring, and stirring. With steam rising from the pot, the dog asleep at my feet and my husband watching football in the other room.

I love lazy Saturdays, don’t you?

A bowl of this rice pudding— flavored subtly with some lemon zest, a pinch of cinnamon, and specks of vanilla bean— successfully warmed me from the inside out.

Not only is rice pudding very comforting (and delicious!), did you know that it’s also relatively good for you? This time of year many of us commit to being healthier, and here’s a treat that won’t make you feel guilty. And I’m not even kidding, the cookbook suggests this as a “wholesome dinner in a pinch.”

That’s enough for me. I’ll have another bowl, please.

Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding
Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook
Makes approximately 4 cups

1 cup long grain rice
2 cups water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter,
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean
Pinch of cinnamon

Combine the water, butter, salt, and lemon zest in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in the rice and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

Use a paring knife to scrape the beans from the vanilla pod. In a large saucepan, combine the milk, sugar, vanilla beans and pod, and cinnamon. Bring just to a boil, and then stir in the cooked rice. Simmer the mixture on medium heat, stirring constantly, until milk is reduce and pudding is thickened, about 20 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean pod.

Serve warm or cold, with a sprinkling of cinnamon, if desired. Store in the refrigerator.