Food for the Simple Soul: Arroz con leche. {recipe}

{Photo credit: SR Atchley}

{Photo credit: SR Atchley}

“A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe.” ~ Thomas Keller

Time and again, I find that the simplest foods create the most complex reactions from my tongue.

Arroz con leche is one of the finest examples of this I’ve found. A traditional dish introduced to Spain by Moorish travelers, Arroz con Leche (rice pudding) is a staple of Latin American cuisine, and remains one of my favorites since childhood.

As a young girl, I remember falling in love with the fact that I could take leftover rice and cover it with milk, sugar and cinnamon to create this delicious treat. As my tastes and techniques have evolved, I find that I am still drawn to the simplicity of the dish, but have added my own twist, my own soul, if you will.

While the basic ingredients remain unchanged, I offer a subtle twist of creativity to this centuries old staple of simple wanderers and food lovers across the globe.

Arroz con Leche

2 cups cooked rice* of your preference

2 cups milk** of your choice

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon garam masala

2 tablespoons raisins

1 tablespoon orange zest

1 teaspoon vanilla or 1/4 vanilla bean

2 tablespoons sugar*** or preferred sweetener

pinch of cardamom

{Photo credit: SR Atchley}

{Photo credit: SR Atchley}

Simply combine the rice, seasonings, raisins and sweetener with the milk in a saucepan and simmer gently. I allow this concoction to bubble into bliss for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, all the while enjoying the sweet aromatics it exudes into the atmosphere.

This dish can be altered by adding more or less milk and cooking for shorter or longer periods of time, in order to achieve your desired consistency. I like to add a splash of cold milk and a sprinkle of cardamom just after dishing it up, adding the sliced and previously zested orange on the side. It makes use of simple, basic ingredients which allows the flavor of added soul to shine through.

{Photo credit: SR Atchley}

{Photo credit: SR Atchley}

Taking simple ingredients and turning them into a delicious taste frenzy is becoming a lost art, but it need not be. Every masterpiece starts with a blank canvas, after all. Choose your medium according to your own style, and enjoy your creation.

*Long grain brown rice is my preference, and is an excellent source ofcomplex carbohydrates, is low in saturated fat, contains lignans that may reduce hormone related cancers, and has three times the amount of fiber as white rice. Brown rice is also believed to reduce the risk of colon cancer, lower blood cholesterol levels, and may slow the progression of heart disease especially in women.

**There are several types of milk to choose from including cow, goat, soy, almond and rice. I use cow milk, as my family tolerates it well, and it offers the most economical way to obtain the essential fatty acids, protein and calcium we need. For those who prefer other types of milk, this recipe can be altered according to your own dietary preferences, and different milk sources will add another touch of original soul to the dish.

***Sugar, while sweet, can be somewhat of a soul-sucking demon. There are many natural sweetening options available which are more easily digested, and which wreck less havoc on the body, than refined white sugar. As a general rule, the less refined a sweetener is, the better off you are. Agave, honey, turbinado sugar and molasses are some of my favorites, but alas, I still always have the white stuff on hand, as a little goes a long way. Start low and go slow is a good rule of thumb for sweetening, regardless of which option you choose.




“For the first time I know what it is to eat. I have gained four pounds. I get frantically hungry, and the food I eat gives me a lingering pleasure. I never ate before in this deep carnal way… I want to bite into life and to be torn by it.” ~ Anaïs Nin


SR Atchley

SR Atchley

A writer, artist & dreamer, Shanna has been potentiating talent since childhood. She is moved by nature, the arts, and academia, along with the vast mysteries of our inner and outer worlds. Shanna has a BSN, and has spent the majority of her career caring for others. It is possible to share your dreams & talents with Shanna by emailing her, or connecting via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If all else fails, she’ll likely find you in a dream, in which case, please feel free to introduce yourself.
SR Atchley
SR Atchley