We’re pretty keen on this rice pudding riff
quinoa rice pudding
Credit: Photo by Axel Bueckert via Getty Images

Some people have been burned by rice pudding. It's so close to being good, but often ruined at the last second by a weird addition, like raisins in coffeecake or walnuts in brownies. But I love the squishy stuff. Much as I enjoy the texture of rice against the creamy, cinnamon-kissed custard, I always have too much quinoa in my kitchen, so it often becomes the starring grain in many of my meals (shoutout to quinoa grits, which is filling and flavorful at any time of day).

Quinoa pudding is one of those dishes like a Nutella-stuffed croissant or strawberry-frosted doughnut that should probably be categorized as dessert, but I’m making the rules, and I say it’s breakfast. Come to think of it, quinoa pudding is actually way more nutrient-dense than those other things, so I suggest you go forth and have a bowl, maybe two if you’re hungry.

Bring 2 cups of water and 1 cup of rinsed quinoa to a boil in a small saucepan. When the water boils, reduce the heat to a simmer and place a lid over the pot. Let the quinoa simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn off the heat and (leaving the lid on) let the quinoa steam for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, whisk together 2 cups whole milk (coconut milk makes a really great-tasting alternative here), ¼ cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1½ tablespoons orange zest (from 1 orange) 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon ground cloves, and a pinch of kosher salt. Heat the mixture over medium high and bring to a boil.

Just as the milk mixture comes to a boil, mix in the cooked quinoa. Lower the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes.

Crack an egg into a small, heatproof bowl bowl with a splash of milk and beat it lightly with a fork or a whisk. Working quickly mix a good spoonful of the hot pudding into the egg mixture to temper the eggs (this will keep them from scrambling in the middle of your pot of pudding).

Pour the tempered egg mixture into the remaining pudding and cook for an additional 5 minutes, until it’s thick and creamy.

Serve the pudding warm, or let it cool slightly, then transfer it to a container with a lid and chill for at least 4 hours. Quinoa pudding is delightful on its own but becomes an even more exciting breakfast, when topped with fresh berries, sliced banana, and/or a handful of chopped nuts.