Friday, December 8, 2006

Low-Fat Low-Sugar Persimmon Rice Pudding

I've got two long rows of persimmons sitting on my kitchen divider, looking for all the world like bright Christmas ornaments. My sister Cynthia brought these to me at Thanksgiving from her home in Chico and they're rapidly getting ripe so it's time to use them, freeze them, and get a few recipes posted.

Today I wanted to make something low in sugar and fat while at the same time being utterly delicious, warm and comforting. A persimmon rice pudding fit the bill on all those counts, especially when I used Uncle Ben's Converted Rice which is low on the glycemic index. Freshly grated nutmeg and whole cinnamon stick enhanced the persimmon puree and gave the dish a homey touch. Please forgive some of my photos, it's a hard job photographing an off-white then orange pudding under range hood lights.

Low-Fat, Low-Sugar Persimmon Rice Pudding
very loosely adapted from a recipe on Epicurious

2 large, very ripe Hachiya persimmons *
3 1/2 cups Land O Lakes Fat Free 1/2 & 1/2 **
1 cup Uncle Ben's Converted Rice
1/4 cup (scant) Splenda granular
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 3-inch piece of cinnamon stick, broken in half
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (no added sugar or corn syrup)

Your persimmons should be very soft all over, almost like liquid in a skin.
Cupping the bottom of the persimmon in your hand, cut around the stem with a sharp knife and extract the core.
Using a grapefruit spoon, gently separate the pulp from the skin and place the pulp in a food processor, removing seeds if present. This can be messy work, but you get to lick your fingers which is a good thing.
Process until pureed. Measure 1 cup puree and set aside, although a little more than 1 cup certainly won't hurt the recipe.
Combine the 1/2 and 1/2, rice, Splenda, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon in a medium sauce pan and stir to blend.
Set over medium heat and bring to just under a boil, stirring occasionally.
Simmer until the rice is tender and the liquid has thickened to a pudding-like consistency, about 45 minutes.
As the pudding thickens, watch it closely, stirring often, to avoid it burning.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and gently stir in the persimmon puree until it is fully incorporated.
This pudding may be served warm, at room temperature or cold from the fridge. Grate a little nutmeg over the top of each serving if you wish. This pudding will thicken further when cold. Cover with plastic wrap to refrigerate.
Cook's Notes:
* While this recipe is certainly very low in fat and has little added sugar (see note below), it should be noted that persimmons are very high in natural sugars. Dieters wishing to restrict their intake of any kind of sugar should be aware of this. On the plus side, they are also very high in fiber; a 2 1/2-inch diameter raw persimmon containing about 6 grams.
** Land O Lakes Fat Free 1/2 and 1/2 is not a low carb product. It has more sugar carbs than whole milk. I used it here because I opted for less fat over less sugar. If you don't need to restrict your fat intake, use whole milk in this recipe instead.
Both of the spices, nutmeg and cinnamon, that I used in my persimmon rice pudding are popular in the US, especially around the holidays. In fact, adding pieces of nutmeg, cinnamon stick, whole cloves, allspice berries and whole star anise to a small saucepan of water, simmered on the back of the stove, is my recipe for a house warmly scented with spicy notes in winter time and is a much less expensive and more organic potpourri than many storebought products. Read what Wikipedia has to say about Nutmeg and Cinnamon.

This is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging , being hosted this week by Pookah at What's Cooking in Carolina. To find out more about this popular weekly event and how to join in the fun, click here.