Since I am nothing if not achingly trendy, I should be a huge proponent of quinoa right?
Well…though I hate to call into question that my finger is anywhere but on the pulse, I have to confess that much as I want to like quinoa, I’m not quite there. At least not reliably. It’s not a problem of bitterness–I know that you need to rinse quinoa for about a half a minute, in order to remove the saponin layer that the plant produces to protect itself from predators. (And I don’t even bother buying pre-washed–I learned from Maria Speck that this is a waste of money). And I’m sure I’ve yet to get the technique down–while it’s conveniently quick to cook, it’s equally easy to overcook, and the grains, rather than distinct tiny pearls seem to be bordering on mush.
From time to time I cook up a large pot of quinoa to use throughout the week. Sometimes it goes quickly–and I think I’ve finally figured it out–but sometimes it doesn’t. And I’m lacking in inspiration but also feeling plenty guilty at the prospect of letting it go bad.
Of course, if the issue is inspiration, a little cardamom, milk, and sugar is just the muse you need, right?
I’ll admit, this isn’t your standard, uber-healthy quinoa recipe. But it’s delicious, and somewhat healthy, and it saves the quinoa from a trip down the garbage dispenser, and that counts for something.
Essentially we’re talking a rice pudding with a fashionable twist. But funnily enough, this pudding is actually quite humble. Not outrageously creamy, much lighter than its rice-based cousin. And it’s versatile, if such a thing can be said about pudding: since it’s just mildly sweetened with a hint of maple, it serve as a great stand-in for a morning bowl of oatmeal. If, however, you don’t like too much virtue with your vices, you could always add a dollop of whipped cream.
The recipe I originally used called for maple sugar–which actually turns out to be the most extravagant ingredient in this pudding. So I’ve also figured out how to make it using maple syrup–also not the cheapest of sweeteners, but there’s certainly no other substitute. I live in New England after all, what do you expect me to say? Using maple syrup also simplifies a recipe that admittedly is already simple enough. But you can’t argue with cutting costs and cutting steps: when using syrup, there’s no need to cream it with the butter. Instead, melt the butter and stir everything together.
I’ll keep trying to find my way with quinoa, but until I do, it’s comforting to know that if nothing else, that bowl of cooked up grains that’s been staring me down all week can be turned into an easy and homey pudding.
Quinoa Maple Pudding adapted from the Green Market Baking Book
- 1/2 cup maple sugar OR 2/3c maple syrup (Add 2T brown sugar if you prefer something sweeter).
- 2T butter, softened (plus more for greasing the baking pan)
- 2 eggs
- 1 c milk
- 1T vanilla extract
- 1t cinnamon or 1/2t cardamom
- 2 c cooked quinoa
- 1/2 c toasted hazelnuts, optional
- 1/2 c currants, optional
- Freshly grated nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a casserole dish or individual ramekins.
If using maple sugar, cream together with the butter. If using maple syrup, just barely melt the butter and stir it together with the maple syrup. Stir in the brown sugar to the syrup-butter mixture, if using. Stir in the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon or cardamom and salt and mix well.
Fold in the quinoa and nuts and currants if using.
Pour the mixture into your baking dish (or dishes) and grate nutmeg on top. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until just set. (In particular, it may take longer with maple syrup as there is more liquid).