What do you think of vanilla? Some people will say bland, others will say delicious. I say the most versatile and exciting of all spices. Vanilla is a versatile flavoring grown from a plant in the orchid family originating in Mexico. It is now cultivated in many tropical countries from the V. planifolia orchid. Discovered in the New World it has become one of the most popular flavorings in the world because of its versatility. Its name developed from the Spanish word describing the source of flavor, the “vainas” or pods. Its strong aroma
Vanilla can be used for either sweet or savory foods. Use only an authentic vanilla extract or the vanilla beans. Beware of the cheap imitations you find in other countries. They’re made by combining small amounts of vanilla extract with Tonka bean extra. The Tonka bean contains coumarin and is banned from its use in US food manufacturing because it’s been shown to cause liver damage.
What’s your favorite way of using vanilla? I’m enjoying using it in savory dishes, such as vanilla rice. There are many recipes for this delicious, aromatic rice, but I prefer mine without any sweetness.
Digna’s Savory Vanilla Rice
- 1 teaspoon EVOO
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1 3/4 cups water
- 1 vanilla bean, caviar removed (may substitute 1 - 2 tsp vanilla extract)
- Remove the caviar (seeds) from one 3 inch vanilla bean & discard
- Bring 1 ½ cups reduced salt chicken broth to a boil.
- Add 1 tablespoons olive oil, salt, pepper and the vanilla bean, simmer for 1 – 2 minutes
- Add 1 ½ cups long grain rice (Basmati is the best), bring to a boil for 2 – 3 minutes until liquid starts to evaporate.
- Stir once bringing up the bottom to the top (folding motion).
- Cover and simmer at the lowest possible fire for 20 minutes.
- Check for doneness. If water is evaporated it’s OK to stir it now. If there is water remaining cover and continue cooking until all water is gone.
- Check for doneness. If the grains are still firm in the middle (somewhat crunchy) broth 1 tablespoon at a time, cover and simmer again for 5 to 10 minutes
Do you have a favorite recipe using vanilla?
I also favor rice pudding and favor a creamy, nutritious rice pudding recipe like the one in Flavorful Fortified Food - Recipes to Enrich Life. It's 1/2 a cup of deliciousness packed with 17 grams of protein that can carry you for the day when eaten for breakfast.