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I am not afraid of prunes. Medieval European feasts were laden with prunes — for morning meals, over meats and in sweets. Of course, no one nowadays would think of using them except for breakfast.

What a high-fiber, filling breakfast that would be! Prunes, dates and figs cooked into a jammy fruit compote, sweetened with honey, over creamy brown rice pudding? Almost the picture of health.

This dried fruit compote comes from a time when we didn’t have many methods of preservation, and fruits were eaten in season or dried. I used prunes, dates and Turkish figs, but you can use any dried fruits or even apples in your fruit compote.

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Just a small amount of honey and these sweet dried fruits and it’s almost dessert for breakfast.

History Alert! Since sugar used to be an expensive “spice,” dates and honey were the main sweeteners of medieval Europe. Honey has been around since ancient Egypt! Many medieval dishes call for honey, dates, prunes and figs, according to Fabulous Feasts: Medieval Cookery and Ceremony.

If you’ve got leftover cooked rice in the fridge, a simple breakfast rice pudding is a natural alternative to junky cereals. You can even use soy, almond or rice milk.

Just use the same amount of milk as you have cups of rice. For example, this recipe uses 3 cups of cooked rice and 3 cups of milk.

Both the rice pudding and the fruit compote take 20 minutes to cook, so you can have them ready at the same time.

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Sometimes when I eat eggs and bacon for breakfast, I feel overstuffed and queasy from the grease. Not so with brown rice pudding. It’s satisfying and nutrient-rich for long-lasting energy.

How to Make Brown Rice Pudding with Dried Fruit Compote

Pour the milk and rice into a pot on medium-high heat. Stir it around and wait for it to boil. Meanwhile, chop the fruit into bite-size pieces.

When the rice pudding starts to boil, add in cinnamon and vanilla extract. Lower heat to maintain a simmer, then cook for 20 minutes or so until all the milk has been absorbed.

Start a second pot on medium heat. Add the fruit and water just to cover. Simmer until the fruit is soft and starting to look like a chunky jam.

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When the fruit is soft enough, remove it with a slotted spoon to a bowl with about 1/4 cup of the simmer liquid. Stir in honey and the zest of half a lemon.

Put the rice pudding in bowls, top with the dried fruit compote and some chopped almonds and serve.

Keep the rest of the compote in the fridge and you can eat it over oatmeal any day of the week.

   

Brown Rice Pudding with Dried Fruit Compote

An hot breakfast dish with a medieval touch

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients

For the Rice Pudding:
  • 3 cups cooked rice
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • For the Dried Fruit Compote:
  • 1/2 lb. dried fruit, about 1 and 1/2 cups (Prunes, figs, dates, cranberries, raisins, apples, pears)
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • Honey, for drizzling
  • Almonds, chopped for garnish
  • Instructions

    1. Make the pudding: Stir milk and rice together over medium-high heat until boiling. Lower heat to simmer and add cinnamon and vanilla extract. Cook, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom to prevent sticking, for 20 minutes or until all milk is absorbed. Stir in 2 tbsp. honey or more to taste.
    2. Make the compote: Chop fruit into bite-size pieces. Add to pot on medium heat with water to cover. Simmer 20 minutes or until soft. Remove fruit and 1/4 cup of simmering liquid to bowl. Stir in lemon zest and 1 tbsp. honey. Let stand 5 minutes.
    3. Place brown rice pudding in individual bowls and top with fruit compote. Garnish with chopped almonds and drizzle with honey if desired.

    Notes

    Compote recipe adapted from NY Times Dried Fruit Compote

    What to do with leftover dates? Eat them by the handful or throw them in a scrumptious Palm-Springs style date milk shake. The key is to soak them first so they blend well.