This is an interesting and unexpected breakfast bowl combination that will sure surprise you. This wild rice porridge with lemon and dates is like a warm hug on a winter day and has a sweet honey taste that goes beautifully when it is chilly outside.
Wild rice, as you are about to discover, is not a grain or rice but the seed of a grass, and it is a relatively unusual ingredient to cook with, especially for breakfast. I am about to show you a comforting way to make it a sweet alternative that could also work as a dessert.
About wild rice and its origins
As I was saying, wild rice is the seed of an aquatic grass that grows in North America. It is one of the few seeds and grains that are originally from this continent and is officially recognised as a pseudo-cereal like quinoa or buckwheat.
The truly wild version of the rice is manually harvested all year round from canoes that travel across the marshes where the plant grows but it is unfortunately harder to find in shops. The most commonly available version is grown in paddies and harvested by machine.
The difference between the two is obvious in the time it takes to cook it; cultivated wild rice takes much longer, up to an hour, whereas the wild version can be ready in under half an hour. The flavor is also quite different. But fret not, cultivated wild rice is still very flavorful and great for you.
But where did wild rice come from?
I quite love its history and how it is making a come back thanks the health conscious. Let’s take a look.
Wild rice is a relatively unknown food because it only started to be grown as a commercial crop in the middle of the 20th century. Before that, its cultivation was natural, around the Great Lakes region of the US and Canada.
Traditionally eaten by Native American tribes such as the Ojibwa for centuries, it was introduced to Europeans who thought it was a strange food. The French in particular called it “crazy oats”. For the Ojibwa it is Manoomin which translates to “good berry”.
Legend has it that the Ojibwa were told by the stars to move east until they found food that grew on water, and this is how they settled in the Great Lakes region when they found wild rice. For them, wild rice is not only a staple food but it is also used to make offerings to the spirits.
The benefits of wild rice and this recipe
I love wild rice for its nutty and toasty flavor, but I love it even more because of its health benefits and overall goodness which make this wild rice porridge a delicious bowl that is also good for you.
Wild rice is gluten-free, sodium-free, high in protein (14%) and practically fat-free, making it low in overall calories. It is also a good source of vitamin B and its nutty and chewy flavor make it a great base for earthy dishes with orange, mushrooms or game. Because it is low in calories and fat, you can add some creaminess to it in the form of cream or butter and still have an overall balanced and healthy dish.
This recipe incorporates dates to make it a sweet breakfast option. Dates are a fantastic dried fruit. They are widely available and are packed with vitamins, which is why they are a great alternative to refined sugar or artificial sweeteners that do not bring any other health benefit to the table.
Dates are originally from Mesopotamia and are grown across the Middle East and North Africa. Date palm trees can be found in many places around the world and the sugary sweet fruit is easily harvested and eaten fresh or dried. There are hundreds of types of date and if you have traveled across the Middle East you will have encountered markets where the many varieties are on display.
Because of their high sugar content, they can keep for a long time and the jaggery that they produce is a fabulous ingredient for cakes. I know I can only ever eat one or two dates maximum before their sweetness overloads me. This recipe only uses one and that is enough.
What I love about this wild rice porridge
This is a unique breakfast rice porridge that is nothing like the other rice porridge recipes you may have tried.
By combining the vitamin C of the lemons, the natural sweetness and vitamins of the dates and the nutty flavor, low calories and high protein of the gluten-free wild rice you have a bowl that is balanced and yum.
Once cooked, this dish travels well and it will not become soggy or overcooked like other grains. It is as good when eaten warm as it is at room temperature. I even like it cold when it tastes more like dessert pudding.
Recipe: Wild rice porridge with dates and lemon
Nutty, citrusy and sweet, this earthy take on grassy wild rice is packed with natural goodness. You can prepare the wild rice the night before so that it is ready to combine, or use a pressure cooker so it is faster.
- 40gr Dry wild rice
- 150ml Water
- 60ml Unsweetened almond milk
- 1 Date
- 1/2 Lemon juice
- 15gr Sliced almonds
- 1/4 Lemon grind
- Pinch nutmeg
- 1 tbsp Coconut sugar (optional)
- BOIL: Bring the water to boil in a pot and when it boils add the rice, lower the heat to a simmer and cover. Keep checking on the rice from time to time to ensure it does not run out of water. The type of rice used will determine the cooking time. It takes at least 45min for the rice to be ready so you will have to keep tasting it until it pops open like a butterfly and is soft and fluffy. Once it's ready, drain and lightly rinse with water.
- PREPARE: Half an hour into the cooking, you can prepare the rest of the ingredients. Chop the date being careful with the stone in the middle. Grate part of the lemon's grind and finely chop the rest so it is a combination of finely grated and chopped grind.
- COOK: Pour the almond milk, the lemon juice, the lemon grind, the chopped date and the sugar (if you want to make it extra sweet) into a pot and simmer slowly so the dates soak some of the milk and the sugar dissolves. If the rice is not ready yet once this is done, set the pot aside and wait for the rice to be ready.
- COMBINE: Put the wild rice into the pot with the rest of the ingredients and bring back to the stove to simmer slowly as you keep stirring. It should take about 5min for the ingredients to fuse and combine.
- SERVE: Serve the wild rice in a bowl and top with the sliced almonds.
Cook the wild rice the night before so that it is ready to eat when you are. Cook it in batch and preserve it in an air tight container so you have it ready for the week. You can eat it as a side with a protein main or as savory dish with vegetables or mushrooms.
Cooking time and water varies significantly from brand to brand and depending on the type of wild rice. There are many varieties of the same plant and I have tried several brands, each with different cooking times, from 45min to over an hour.
Any milk will do. You can use double cream instead of almond milk, or any nut milk, to cook the rice. if you use sweetened milk, omit the sugar or the recipe will be too sweet.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 337Total Fat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1mgCarbohydrates: 52gFiber: 7gSugar: 20gProtein: 10g
Values may vary depending on ingredients and brands used.
Possible variations to this xx recipe
It is hard to vary this recipe while keeping to its flavor but here are a few ideas:
- Other citrus: Use any other citrus fruit like oranges or grapefruits. If you use oranges, I would recommend you skip the sugar.
- Prunes or apricots: Use other dried meaty fruits like prunes or apricots. I would not recommend dried berries or raisins as the flavor will not be the same. You want a honey-like fruit that has a high sugar content.
- Chopped walnuts: Add chopped walnuts to the mix for added texture.
- Brandy: Flambe the dish with bandy for an unusual dessert. Serve with whipped cream or even cream cheese.
Make this recipe with <250 kcal
This recipe has very few ingredients but it is quite easy to reduce 80Kcal and keep it within 250Kcal per serving.
- Reduce 20 Kcal: By cooking the rice in water instead of almond milk or by leaving the additional sugar out of the recipe, you don’t really need it as the date already bring quite a lot of sweetness to the table.
- Reduce 35 kcal: By reducing the serving to 30gr instead of 40gr.
So, to make this recipe 250kcal you should cook the rice in water, not add any coconut sugar and make the serving 30gr.