This recipe for Red Quinoa and Mango Pudding is my version of the build a burger I encountered earlier this week. Well, sort of. I tasted an Impossible Burger for the first time on Monday. Actually, I shared one with Alice Leung, the chef-owner of Soy Café. We ordered what the menu calls Build A Burger. Add cheese, sauce (the special is not vegan so of course, we picked a different one), and other options, and pay an upcharge for each item. The burger looked and tasted very much like the rare burgers I ate when I was a kid – well, those were not rare, but Impossible comes only ‘rare’.
I think of quinoa as the tofu of whole grains. Use it to make tasty side dishes and as the base of the main course. Cultivated in the Andes for over 5,000 years, quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) has been called “the mother grain” and “the gold of the Incas.” Technically speaking, quinoa is not a grain, rather is it a seed, but it is used in virtually all the same ways as other whole grains.
In nature, saponins discourage birds from eating the seeds, as they’re bitter and slightly toxic. Manufacturers generally remove the saponins by rinsing, before packaging but some residues may remain. So, rinse the tiny seeds in a fine mesh strainer before you cook them.
Most recipes for quinoa call for cooking the grain, in a 1:2 ration, quinoa to liquid, until it all or most of the liquid is absorbed. I learned a different method, 20 years ago from my dear friend the late chef Shirley King, who learned to cook quinoa from the great chef Felipe Rojas-Lombardi of the Ballroom in New York City. Quinoa was part of his culture, and when he said, “cook it like pasta,” I listened. I save the nutrient-rich cooking liquid to use in soups.
Another big plus to quinoa, aside from how fast it cooks, and it’s neutral flavor, are the excellent nutritional benefits. Quinoa is a complete protein, providing all nine essential amino acids and it is naturally gluten-free.
One cup dry quinoa yields about 3 cups cooked or 6 (1/2-cup) servings. Quinoa expands in liquid, so keep this in mind if you plan to add it to a soup, least your broth disappears. I cooked 1 full cup for this recipe, more than I needed since I wanted to have extra for grain bowls later in the week.
Think of this Red Quinoa and Mango Pudding recipe as a basic template. I’ve made suggestions for additions and variations to the simple, creamy, no-or-low-sugar, whole grain dessert too. It’s comfort food, and this week in Philadelphia, with minus 1 temps and my head cold, I needed a big dose of comfort. For the New Year, lighter desserts make sense, but this one could be breakfast or snack treat, too. A small amount of uncooked oats thicken the pudding, a skinny work around, instead of using canned coconut milk or cashew cream.
- I used red quinoa for this recipe. You could use brown, but the dish will look bland.
- Use scissors to cut the mango. The pieces don’t have to be perfectly even.
- The lime juice – please use fresh – perks up the flavor as citrus does, making this pudding taste sweeter.
- FYI, I used mango from Trader Joe and Brandless. Both were great.
To cook the quinoa:
- Rinse the quinoa in a strainer.
- Cook like pasta in abundant boiling water until tender, about 6-7 minutes.
Strain, saving the liquid to add to soups and stocks.
To prepare the mango:
- Cut 3 1/2 ounces dried unsweetened mango into 1- to 2-inch pieces, roughly.
- Pour enough boiling water over the mango to cover by a scant inch, and soak until the fruit is very soft. The time needed depends on the relative dryness of the fruit. You can do this overnight if it’s more convenient.
- When ready to cook, drain and save the liquid.
Red Quinoa and Mango Pudding
- 1 cup cooked red quinoa.
- 1 cup almond or soy milk
- 3 1/2 ounces dried mango Use all but 1/2 cup of the hydrated mango to cook the pudding (the remaining 1/2 cup will be garnish)
- 1/4 cup date paste
- 3 tablespoons mango soaking water
- 2 tablespoons oat flakes (oatmeal)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder, more to taste
- pinch salt
- 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 to 2 tablespoons coconut or cane sugar, optional
Make the Pudding
Combine all of the ingredients except for the lime juice and optional sweetener in a medium saucepan and cook to a low boil over medium heat. Watch out, as the pudding may spatter.
Reduce the heat to low, set a cover on the pot askew and simmer 6 to 8 minutes, stirring a few times.
Much of the liquid will have been absorbed but the quinoa will be still soupy, not dry.
Remove from the heat. Keep the saucepan covered for 10 minutes.
Uncover the saucepan and taste. Add the lime juice, starting with the smaller amount, unless you like the pudding straight from the pot. Add the sugar if you want a sweeter pudding.
Serve the Pudding
The soft pudding benefits from crunch so make it healthy. You can add coarsely chopped toasted walnuts or cacao nibs.
Add a few pieces of the reserved mango to the top
Make it a party and add a dollop of Vanilla Custard Cream.
Want a richer pudding? Use coconut milk.
Want a sweeter pudding? Add more sweetener.
Try something else: replace the mango with pitted, chopped dates or diced sweet potato.
I hope you’ll join me for my live Rouxbe event on Thursday, January 11th. I will be discussing the best fresh desserts to start your New Year with. Bring your questions – I’m excited to talk about the sweet ways too start your year off right! This is a free event, but registration is required. To register, visit https://rouxbe.com/live-events/496
If you’re in Arizona, please come to The AZ Vegetarian Food Festival in Scottsdale, January 20-21. I’ll be doing a cooking demo on the 20th at 3:00pm.