Before I share the beautiful recipe pictured below, let me just declare my love and commitment to New York City. I love you, NYC, and there’s nobody else for me than you. Please don’t be jealous at what I’m about to say. At the end of the day, my rent money goes to you, and it’s your beautiful bridges and skylines I drool over.
That being said, there’s another city I adore: MSP, better known to the rest of the world as “Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota.”
The Twin Cities has a special place in my heart. Growing up in the MinnDak region (and having a family that did not do any adventurous traveling), the Twin Cities was my only exposure to urban life. Every time we reached the outskirts of Minneapolis and those skyscrapers came into view, my nose pressed against the window with wonder.
One of the billion pictures I have taken of the Minneapolis skyline
upon entering the city.
My experiences in MSP while growing up were pretty shallow and touristy. We only made the four-hour trip for special occasions, like the state high school basketball tournament, a Jonas Brothers concert (I’m not too proud to admit that), or the National Figure Skating Championships. I grew up only eating at chain restaurants, so my MSP visits always included stops at uninventive places like Applebee’s and Red Lobster. Nothing special.
It wasn’t until my dear friend from high school, Christine, began college at the University of St. Thomas that I experienced a different side of the Twin Cities. Visiting her was the first time I experienced Grand Avenue and the unique shops it offered. My stop at The Tea Garden was my first exposure to bubble tea (and it was love at first sip). Visiting her was my first time eating at independent restaurants that took pride in their ambiance, decor, and fresh ingredients. I literally (and I do mean literally) cried when I ate crème brûlée for the first time at the Loring Pasta Bar in Minneapolis.
While I maintain that nothing rivals the restaurant scene of my beloved New York, I credit MSP for my food awakening, if you will. That first hour I spent at the Loring Pasta Bar–surrounded by twinkling lights, the soothing bounce of a live jazz quartet, the black-and-white checkerboard floor, and the clamor of forks on porcelain plates–stimulated each of my five senses more than I had ever known. I would never appreciate a chain restaurant again.
Over the summer while I was visiting my parents, I made a brief trip to MSP to visit Christine, who has graduated from UST but still calls the city home. Before I left, she insisted that we make one more stop at the World Street Kitchen to try their sorbet. It was a mango-passionfruit sorbet, served with mango chutney and puffed wild rice.
While this may sound like an unusual combination, it fits with their Minnesota-meets-global-cuisines hybrid theme, and it was DELICIOUS. So delicious that we agreed I should try to make an oatmeal version. 🙂
What’s with the wild rice, you ask? For starters, most wild rice is harvested in Minnesota, so it’s a Midwest staple. Second of all, it’s stupid-easy to puff your own wild rice. While actually cooking wild rice takes over half an hour, puffing it takes about a minute. The result is a delightful topping with tons of crunch and a toasty flavor.
What you'll need:
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup diced mango (I used thawed frozen mango)
- 1/4 cup quick cook steel-cut oats (I use Country Choice Organic)
- 1-2 tsp chia seeds (optional)
- pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp wild rice, uncooked
How to make it:
- In a blender or mini food processor, puree coconut milk and mango together until smooth.
- Combine with oats, optional chia seeds, and salt in a mason jar or any container with a lid.
- Cover with lid and shake, shake, shake (or just stir) until combined.
- Store in the refrigerator overnight (or for several hours).
- In the morning, heat up a skillet until evenly hot over medium heat. Spray with nonstick cooking spray and add wild rice.
- Shake skillet occasionally to keep the wild rice from sticking, and let cook until rice "pops" (about 1-2 minutes). Remove from heat.
- Sprinkle puffed wild rice on top of oatmeal (preferably still cold, but you could reheat if you want) and EAT. 🙂