A Crowd Favorite: Strawberry, Vanilla & Date
I saw my first roadside signs advertising fresh Ontario strawberries this week. If you get the chance this summer, do try to find the time to make this recipe. It is easy & oh, so worth the effort. I sold this rice pudding in the retail stores for years. It is a rich fruity flavor with a terrifically balanced, complex flavor profile.
Use whole dates or whole pitted dates for the best results. Don't use the paste. I always ensure that the dates that I use don't contain any sulphites for preservative. The vanilla I use for this is a good quality Madagascar Vanilla that is alcohol based. As vanilla is one of the stars in this recipe, I always use a pure vanilla. The alcohol base keeps the flavor true, even when you cook with it. The President's Choice Madagascar pure vanilla extract is my go-to. It is a consistently beautiful product that is worth the extra money. If you can't find it, try to use a pure vanilla extra, in its place versus an artificial extract. They really are night & day in comparison.
What you will need:
2 medium sized pots with lids, a strainer that sits inside of a bowl, a long metal spoon, a rubber spatula, a wire whisk (if you have one), a cutting board and knife, measuring spoons & cups or a kitchen scale (if you have one), an immersion blender or upright blender, a heat proof/food safe container with lid
35 oz strawberries, rinsed & topped
15 oz Calrose medium grain rice
1 + 12 oz coconut milk (14 oz in a regular can)
12 oz sugar or organic sugar
7 oz whole dates
1 1/2 tsp pure Madagascar vanilla extract in alcohol
Place the Calrose rice in the strainer that sits inside of a bowl. Place under running water. Rinse and strain the rice. Repeat 2 more times. Set aside to drain.
Remove the stem ends from the strawberries and rinse them under running water. Chop coarsely. In a medium sized pot place the strawberries, 1 cup of water and the sugar. Cover and bring the pot to a medium boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for 15 - 20 minutes.
In a second medium sized pot place 32 oz of water and 1 oz of coconut milk. Bring the pot to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Add the rinsed and drained Calrose rice. Stir to ensure that it isn't sticking to the bottom of the pot. Cover and set a timer for 20 minutes.
Remove the pits from the whole dates (if not already pitted), chop the dates into small pieces and set aside.
When the strawberry sauce is cooked, blend the strawberry sauce using a blender, until pureed. Then add 12 oz of coconut milk, 7 oz of water and the chopped pitted dates. Bring the pot to a medium boil. Add the Madagascar vanilla extract. Reduce the heat to a slow simmer until the rice is fully cooked.
Once the rice has cooked for the 20 minutes, turn off it's heat. Keep the pot covered and allow the rice to continue to cook and to absorb more liquid for an additional 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, add the hot cooked rice to the hot cooked strawberry, vanilla & date sauce. Using a wire whisk blend the 2 together breaking up any clumps of hot cooked rice.
Empty the hot Strawberry, Vanilla & Date fruit rice pudding into a heat proof/food safe container. Cover and set on a counter or on a wire rack to cool for 15 to 20 minutes. Then, place it in the fridge to cool completely. If will keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge. Or, you may choose to portion and package some of it into freezer grade containers to freeze for later consumption. It will freeze for months.
Consult our How to Freeze & Thaw blog post for best results. Consult our Simply Fruit Rice Puddings: Basic Ingredients post and our Basic Cooking Techniques post for more tips and tricks on making your own fruit rice pudding. Enjoy!