lavender-lemon risotto

8 July, 2012 § Leave a comment

Somewhere along the line, you’re gonna crave pudding. And whether it be in the winter months like a normal person, or at the start of a sticky, sweaty, start-having-conversations-with-your-aircon July (like me), that pudding will really hit the spot. For me, that pudding was lavender-lemon risotto.

I’ve always been a big fan of rice pudding. It’s a simple, unassuming dessert that doesn’t want any trouble–sort of like that crying girl who’s bent on unity in Mean Girls. I’ve had it at home when I feel under the weather (hey, Cozy Shack) and at steakhouses as a followup to a filet mignon (I’m convinced they’ve made a pact to always top with cinnamon). What this rice pudding offers is something different–something more sophisticated and delicate, but still comforting and delicious.

When I contemplated how I could tweak this recipe I considered the obvious–Splenda over Sugar–as well as the more challenging. I wasn’t willing to sacrifice the heavenly creaminess of rice pudding for more favorable nutrition facts, but rice pudding is supposed to make you feel better, not guilty.

The natural thing to do was to make it with low-fat milk, but I’d have to compensate somehow to salvage the creaminess factor. Enter arborio rice. Arborio rice, otherwise known as the risotto rice, has a much higher starch content than the long-grain white rice used in the original recipe–as does sushi rice, for the record. The higher starch provides any creaminess I would’ve missed using my trusty 1% Horizon Organic. So, pudding lovers, rice pudding is not a crime.

Lemon-Lavender Risotto
adapted from Adventures in Cooking

2 cups 1% milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup arborio rice
1/4 cup Splenda or preferred sugar substitute
1 egg yolk
1 tea bag, empty
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp dried lavender
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Optional Garnish
1/4 tsp dried lavender
1/2 tsp largely grated lemon zest

Place the dried lavender in the tea bag, staple it shut with a string attached and set aside.

Heat the milk, rice, sugar, water and bag of lavender in a medium sized pot until it begins to boil. Reduce heat and allow the mixture to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes to prevent burning.

Remove the pot from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, lemon juice and finely grated lemon zest.

In a small bowl, beat the egg yolk at high speed until slightly bubbly on top, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Scoop 1 tablespoon of the rice pudding into the egg yolk, stirring constantly. Continue to add rice pudding to the egg yolk mixture tablespoon by tablespoon, mixing well.

Scoop the rice pudding into 4 individual serving bowls and garnish with the remaining lavender and the largely grated lemon zest. Serve warm or chilled.

A little lavender escaped from my tea bag into the rice pudding, and no taste buds were harmed. Don’t worry if you have the same problem. Also, be picky about the pith when grating your lemon zest–if any pith sneaks into the pudding, its bitterness will come right through. Finally, I ended up pouring a splash or two more milk into my pot to keep the pudding from getting too dense, so pour to your preference. Be advised, however, that the arborio quickly absorbs the milk and rethickens.¬†


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