I’m a sucker for puddings, and when I started thinking about a traditional Swedish dessert made from whipped cream and orange slices folded into cinnamon-y leftover rice pudding, I thought about the ways I could change it to not just veganize it, but make it a little bit of my own. Enter our good friend saffron, used for savory purposes in Spanish and Italian-style cuisines though largely for sweet uses in the Nordic countries. I haven’t yet mastered a really great vegan lussekatt recipe, so my mind and tastebuds wanted to merge the rice pudding and the saffron together…creamy, golden heaven! With some delicious satsuma and kiwi slices and some pomegranate seeds for a burst of color, it was full-blown holiday love for me.
If it’s hard for you to find (or afford) saffron, fear not; this will still taste perfectly lovely without. But if you are going for saffron, I highly encourage you to go for some good stuff; the largely flavorless variety found in Mexican aisles of your local grocery is mainly for adding color, not flavor. The cheapest I’ve found locally in Minneapolis is at Trader Joe’s, of all places. This is quite rich and quite a treat, so I recommend smaller portions. It’s delicious slightly warm or chilled, and will add a lovely rainbow of natural colors to a chilly winter night.
Holiday Saffron & Citrus Rice Pudding
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1 14.5-oz can coconut milk (light is fine, or you could replace half with another non-dairy milk)
1 cinnamon stick
5 green cardamom pods
1-2 tablespoons coconut nectar, agave or other sweetener, or to taste
1 generous pinch saffron threads, crushed between your fingers
1-2 satsuma or other seedless mandarin oranges, peeled and segmented
1-2 kiwifruit, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
Combine the rice, coconut and other non-dairy milk if using, cinnamon stick, and cardamom pods. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep the rice from sticking. Add the sweetener and saffron, and continue to cook for 20-30 minutes, or rice has swelled and liquid is reduced. (The liquid may still be somewhat thin, but will continue to thicken as it cools.) Cool slightly, or refrigerate as desired.
Stir in the satsuma, portion into bowls, and top with kiwifruit and pomegranate seeds to serve.