Amaranth is one of those so-called ‘ancient grains-’ those grains and seeds that have been feeding humans for thousands of years. Many of these grains, like teff, spelt, or millet simply faded into the background when modern, hybrid versions of wheat became the staple across the world. But ancient grains are making a slow, steady comeback as a healthy, wheat-free option for those of us interested in natural foods.
Amaranth is botanically a seed, though it’s usually referred to as a pseudo-grain. It’s teeny tiny, and has the distinction of being one of the smallest grains in the world (teff holds the title). It’s a nutty, grassy flavored seed that can be used in porridge, soups, or served as the main starch component of meal. You can also get amaranth flour to make gluten-free goodies. Heidi of 101 Cookbooks has a few recipes for amaranth flour in her cookbooks, and also features it this five-grain pilaf on her site.
Amaranth is actually a wide variety of plant species, some with edible leaves and others that are grown as ornamentals. Amaranth can be a problematic weed on organic farms; an overgrowth of amaranth made for the worst weeding on our farm. Even when only a few inches tall, the amaranth weed is spiny and tenacious; if left to grow it became even spikier and grows up to three feet tall!
But we forgive amaranth of these spines, because it is a healthful bulk item staple, and it’s easy to cook. I prefer amaranth mixed with quinoa or millet, as the flavor is quite strong. But it’s also nice mixed with a bit of brown rice. The Miso-Glazed Greens are salty and sweet- the perfect component to this wholesome grain.
Amaranth with Miso-Glazed Greens
1 cup amaranth grains
2 cups water
1 teaspoon soy sauce or liquid aminos
1 cup cooked brown rice or quinoa
1 bunch collard greens or kale, stems removed
2 Tablespoons white miso
2 Tablespoons brewed black tea
1 Tablespoon mirin
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
slices of lemon, for garnish
handful toasted Macadamia nuts (or other)
- Add amaranth grains to a saucepan with water and soy sauce. Bring to a boil, cover, then reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes, or until soft and grains are slightly translucent. Stir in cooked brown rice.
- Slice collard greens very thinly. Fluff so that leaves are not stuck together. Set aside.
- In a small bowl whisk together miso, tea, and mirin until smooth. Set aside.
- In a large skillet or wok, heat sesame oil over medium-low heat. Add sliced collards and cook until just wilted, about five minutes, stirring continuously. Turn off heat, drizzle with miso glaze, and stir to coat. Toss with toasted Brazil nuts. Serve on top of amaranth with lemon slices and enjoy!
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