Total time: 20 minutes, plus overnight soaking
Servings: 2 1/2 quarts
Note: Inspired by Juan Antonio of Oaxacalifornia. Soak the rice the day before. Agave nectar is available at Trader Joe's stores, Whole Foods, Ralphs and other well-stocked supermarkets.
4 cups long grain white rice
3 cinnamon sticks
1/4 cup agave nectar
Chopped toasted pecans for garnish (optional)
Diced cantaloupe for garnish (optional)
1. In a large bowl, combine the rice and cinnamon sticks. Bring 6 cups of water to a boil, then pour the hot water over the rice and cinnamon. Cover and allow to soak overnight.
2. In a blender, purée the rice mixture (including the cinnamon) with the agave nectar until smooth; this will need to be done in batches. Strain the mixture through a mesh strainer lined with a triple layer of cheesecloth (or a chinois). Stir in 6 cups cold water, or adjust consistency to taste. Adjust the sweetness to taste with additional agave nectar if desired.
3. Just before serving, stir the horchata vigorously. Serve over ice and garnish, if desired, with a few chopped toasted pecans and a sprinkle of diced cantaloupe. This will keep for 3 days, refrigerated.
Each 8-ounce serving: 94 calories; 1.5 grams protein; 19 grams carbohydrates; 0 fiber; 0 fat; 0 saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 5 mg. sodium.