Two summers ago I tried my hand at a flower garden. Having successfully not killed any windowsill plants in my life, I figured I was ready to move on to the great outdoors. I grew cosmos, which are hard NOT to grow, marigolds, which are among my favorite flowers, and I grew amaranth.
Amaranth is an annual that is easy to grow and produces pretty red flowers. But amaranth is ALSO a grain! Which is, flowers aside, what this entry is about. I did not eat my amaranth, but I have a soft spot for the stuff ever since.
Amaranth is a very tiny grain: here it is, on the bottom right, compared to millet and brown rice. It is very high in iron and is a good source of calcium, magnesium and zinc. And as it is a whole grain, it's also high in fiber. And delicious! But while amaranth sometimes shows up in the occasional bread, muffin or porridge, it mostly a forgotten grain.
Honestly, usually I just boil then simmer it like rice and eat it plain as a side dish. But it's got a smooth, nutty taste and is just so adorable in the pan that I think it could go far.
So to what sort of recipe does such a tiny specimen lend itself? I asked myself. Having been on a cornmeal kick recently, my first thought was GRITS. (I love grits. Which is weird because I am a new englander at home and at heart) And I felt very original until I googled it and discovered that recipes for amaranth grits are all over the internet. But after looking at a few, I have decided everyone's over-complicating things. So I will not be deterred by how many other people thought of this first.
1 TBsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
3 Cups water
1 cup Amaranth
1/4 tsp salt
In a medium-sized pan, saute the onion in oil over medium-low heat until slightly translucent. Add water, raise heat to high. Once the water boils, stir in amaranth, turn heat to low and cover. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed. The mixture will be (for lack of a less disgusting word) porridgy.
Serve in a side bowl, or diner-style: plopped right on the plate so it all runs into everything else. Top with a pat of (fake) butter. I had mine with spinach, corn and olives, but this would be great with breakfasty-type foods (pancakes, waffles, fake sausage/bacon) or with a more traditional dinner-type meal (imagine it as a replacement for mashed potatoes)
oh-so-runny and unattractive, but good lord. A delicious, healthy spin on comfort food.
And because I can't help but post adorable food moments, I was chopping up swiss chard stems to toss into a stir-fry the other night, and the pieces of one particular stem caught my eye:
CHARD STARS! They were so cute I almost didn't want to eat them.