Lemon Verbena Rice Pudding with Fresh Fruit and Pistachios - Rancho La Puerta
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Lemon Verbena Rice Pudding with Fresh Fruit and Pistachios

This rice pudding is the perfect celebratory dessert on any occasion!  You can also find this recipe in the Ranch cookbook, “Cooking with the Seasons at Rancho Puerta” by Deborah Szekely, Deborah Schneider and Robert Holmes.  

Arroz con leche is a favorite Mexican dessert, traditionally made with thick, sweetened condensed milk and cin­namon. In this recipe, rice is infused with the luscious flavor of lemon verbena and gently folded into a lightened-up cream. Top each serving of the pudding with whatever fresh fruit is ripe and in season. A scattering of bright green pistachio nuts (which grow at Tres Estrellas) adds crunch and color. For a party, you could serve very small portions in pretty glasses on a buffet.

Serves 6 to 8


  • 2 cups milk
  • 1½ cups water
  • 2 tablespoons chopped lemon verbena leaves
  • 1 cup long-grain brown rice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup agave syrup or maple syrup, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups fresh fruit
  • ¼ cup pistachio nuts, crushed or chopped
  • 6 to 8 fresh lemon verbena, lemon balm, or mint sprigs (optional)


1. In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup of the milk with the water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and stir in the lemon verbena. Turn off the heat and let stand for 30 minutes, then strain out the leaves, returning the milk to the saucepan.

2. Add the rice and cinnamon stick, bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook slowly for 15 minutes, or until the rice is soft. Remove the cinnamon stick.

3. In a blender, combine the remaining 1 cup milk, the ricotta cheese, vanilla, and syrup. Puree completely, then stir into the cooked rice along with the ground cinnamon.

4. Half-fill parfait glasses with rice pudding. Spoon some fresh fruit on top and garnish with a pinch of bright green pistachios and an herb sprig, if desired.