Earlier today I went on a supermarket adventure, during which I bought an absurd amount of Greek yogurt, a random assortment of produce, and, impulsively, a tub of mini biscotti from Trader Joe’s. (Because, let’s be honest, you totally need to know what’s in my pantry right now.) But really, all I want to do is eat copious amounts of rice pudding straight from the pot. (Never mind that I already ate a bunch of biscotti; let’s pretend that’s not the case.)
Tomorrow I’m starting a new job here in Boston. In the past, the night before I’ve started a new job I’ve felt anxious/nervous/excited/ any other typical cliche emotion you would expect to experience. I can’t say that I’ve felt that yet though… It’ll probably hit me tomorrow morning as I’m trying to put on mascara and end up jabbing myself in the eye instead. Cool.
This first day of work feels kinda like the first day of school.
What am I going to wear? (Who am I kidding? I picked my outfit out a week ago.) Who am I going to sit with at lunch? How will a girl, whose phone’s photo album contents are half pictures of her dog and half pictures of her food, make any friends? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!
I think this time around, I can take comfort in the fact that I’ve had good, if not great, experiences at my past jobs. I’ve learned a lot, made friends, been acknowledged for my hard work, and gained so much to talk, if not laugh, about. I’ve dealt with overflowing coffee pots, spilled milk all over my uniform, hand-picked run-away Coco Puffs off of the floor, been chased out of the stockroom by a banana-wielding bandit (don’t ask)… I’ve done and seen a lot having worked, realistically, not all that long.
Still! None of this changes the fact that I would like some homemade rice pudding in my life. Like this rice pudding. Right here. Right now.
This rice pudding is creamy and rich, without being too sweet or heavy. The arborio rice gets to be super tender, but also maintains a toothsome bite. The simplicity of rice pudding enables the vanilla bean to really shine as an ingredient, and is perfectly complemented by the lemon zest. This is definitely not your typical rice pudding, but the flavors are not so far out such that this dish loses its sense of homeyness or familiarity. Personally, I love the combination of lemon and blueberries so I recommend serving this with some fresh blueberries. (Though not pictured, I gave the combo a try with some of the leftovers and it was beyond delicious!)
Lemon & Vanilla Bean Rice Pudding
- 2 C. water
- 1 C. Arborio rice
- 1 vanilla bean
- 2 ½ C. whole milk
- ½ C. heavy cream
- ½ C. granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp. kosher salt
- 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon zest
In a small saucepan (about 1.5 quarts), bring water to a boil. Once boiling, add rice, reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, covered, for 15-18 minutes, until all of the water is absorbed. Remove from heat.
Split the vanilla bean in half; using a paring knife scrape out the inside and reserve. Place the now empty vanilla pod in a 3 quart saucepan, along with milk, cream, sugar, and salt. Cook mixture over medium-low heat until almost simmering. Add in cooked rice and continue to stir until most of the milk mixture is absorbed and the pudding begins to thicken, about 30-35 minutes. (Note: The mixture will still look a little loose. Don’t worry! It will thicken as it cools.) Remove from heat and remove vanilla pod. Stir in reserved vanilla bean and lemon zest. Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, making sure that the wrap comes in contact with the top to prevent a skin from forming. Chill for 4 hours, or overnight if possible.