Banana Pudding

 Here in the South Banana Pudding is a food group. I was not aware of this until I moved down here from Chicago in 1993. Now that I’ve been in North Carolina longer than I’ve been anywhere else, I am a southern-fried-city girl. Actually, I’ll take that grilled, boneless and skinless, please.

Learning to make a good ‘nanner pudding isn’t hard. In fact I’m a pro at the cheating way, and this Southern staple still tastes just as good. It’s a perfect covered dish dessert, and you can even portion it up into single servings to avoid that whole everyone’s-been-digging-around-the-pudding-mess. Plus, who wants to take home the leftovers from a buffet?

Traditional banana pudding uses Nilla Wafers. There are lots of ways to construct a good banana pudding, but overall it requires just a few simple ingredients. As I said, I cheat because I use banana flavored pudding. I suspect most people do these days.

A typical banana pudding, whether small or large, begins with a few nilla wafers at the bottom. Nothing tastes quite as good as a pudding soaked wafer. Add sliced banana to the dish either by mixing it into the pudding, or layering it, alternating between fruit, pudding, and wafers. Some people like to top the whole thing with Cool Whip or meringue.

Monday night was dessert night. Usually I save the s”real” desserts for Thursday, but this week we won’t be here and I had 2 bananas that were on their very last legs. I am a green banana-eating kind of girl. Once they start to get a deep yellow color I know it’s going to be too soft and mealy for me. It’s just me. All my boys can eat a perfectly ripe banana. But these were brown. Definitely past that perfectly ripened stage.

As usual I am using what I’ve got in the house, though I did buy banana flavored pudding for $1.09. I did have vanilla pudding in the house, but I really just wanted this to be simple without having to doctor it up right. Also, I didn’t see the point of buying a box of vanilla wafers (as yummy as they are) only to let it go to waste. We are not big eaters of processed cookies and crackers. So I used something that had been in my cabinet for some time: mini graham crusts.

I had a package of 6 mini graham crusts, and this recipe (1 regular sized box of pudding) made 7 servings. I cut up 1 banana between the 6 cups and put some in each at the bottom. Then I spooned pudding over it and placed in the fridge to set. When we were ready to eat our dessert I added a dollop of Cool Whip and another slice of banana.

It’s so easy to make banana pudding and there are many ways to put one together. Graham crackers works as well, or if you don’t have any type of cookie at all, just enjoy the pudding! It makes a sweet, simple, and portion-controlled dessert.

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