I’m not sure what came first, the chicken or the egg. As I started thinking about this blog I had two minds, was it the calendula that inspired the craving for pudding or the pudding that gave birth to the calendula. I think the story of the calendula is much more interesting so I will start there.
Years ago I was travelling back and forth to California for work almost monthly. A fashion related job that took me to Industry City California in the day, and the occasional dinner in Westwood (my bosses pick for where to stay). The food was good, the rest of my experience was very un-inspirational. Ever since those monthly trips I’ve craved a return visit to see what I imagined the “real California” to be. Last month my husband and I celebrated our anniversary – and the first time away from our daughter – with a trip to San Francisco and Napa. My dreams of the “real California” include great wine, sustainable agriculture and ocean air – SFC didn’t disappoint.
One of the highlights from our trip was McEvoy Ranch a lovely little shop at the Ferry Building that specializes in California olive oil, edible flowers, and other “seasonal organic estate grown produce” from their ranch in Petaluma CA. I had to leave behind the olive oil but couldn’t pass up the dried calendula flowers.
I’m always on the lookout for a healthier version of my favourites. For this pudding I thought beans would add a hit of protein to this typically carb-ful treat. I was inspired by a lovely looking recipe for indian brown rice pudding with saffron and other indian desserts like sweet pongal and moong dal halwa – both combine rice and beans. All of these recipes use saffron as one of the key ingredients. Since calendula is often used as an inexpensive substitute for saffron – Calendula isn’t as fragrant as saffron but equally as beautiful – I thought it would make the perfect flavour foundation for my “healthier rice pudding”.
Yields 4 – 6 servings
1 cup short-grain brown rice
1/4 cup adzuki beans (sometimes spelled azuki and aduki)
3 cups plus 1/2 cup coconut milk
3 to 5 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
Petals from 2 dried calendula flowers
Plus extra calendula flowers, desiccated coconut and dried cranberries for garnish (pistachios would also be delicious)
Soak your beans overnight, drain and rinse them.
Soak your rice for 1-2 hours, drain and add to a sauce pan along with beans and 3 cups of coconut milk.
Bring to a light boil, reduce heat and cook for 45-minutes.
Stir on and off so the milk doesn’t stick to the bottom.
Add the cardamom and maple syrup.
Cook for an additional 30-45 minutes depending on your desired consistency.
If the milk is absorbed before the rice and beans have fully cooked then add the last 1/2 cup of coconut milk and continue cooking.
Stir in the calendula petals at the end of cooking.
Moosewood Cookbook suggests, for an extra creamy pudding you can purée 1 cup of the rice and beans with 1/2 cup of milk then return the purée to the pudding and mix well.
Sprinkle with calendula petals, coconut and cranberries.
Recipe Note: I intended to make this recipe with mung beans because they’re easy to cook and have an excellent nutritional profile. As life goes, I had just enough adzuki beans left over from another recipe so I used them instead. Like mung beans, they are very nutritionally rich and add a beautiful pink tint to the rice. They do come out a little harder than mung beans.