Cooking with Amaranth

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Purple Carrot Soup with Crispy Kale thickened with Amaranth.  Photo by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

Amaranth is an ancient, gluten-free superfood associated with the Aztec empire. When raw, it appears to be similar to quinoa but changes completely in texture when it is cooked. Amaranth seeds are nutrient-dense and high in protein and amino acids, calcium and iron. It is comparable to a…

Source The Sunday Times: Superfoods: cooking with Amaranth

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Amaranth Porridge Bowl with Berries

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Amaranth Porridge with berries and cashew milk.  This photo was taken by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

I love Amaranth because it is such a versatile ingredient.  During our tv show I have recently popped it, serve it instead of mash and use it to thicken soups.  I particularly love this amaranth porridge.  As a rough guide use 1 part amaranth to 3 parts liquid and cook until all the liquid is absorbed.  Remove the mixture from the heat to prevent it from becoming overcooked and gummy in texture. Is there a better way to start the day during a cold winter?

You will need:

1/2 cup amaranth
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup cashew milk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon agave or stevia [or honey for non-vegan]
vanilla
1 cinnamon stick
a pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest

Top with:  200g mixed berries and I use blueberries, strawberries, pecans, hazelnuts, mint leaves

Soak the amaranth overnight in water if you have the time.  Rinse then place in a saucepan and add 1 1/2 cups water.  Add the vanilla, cinnamon stick broken in half, lemon juice and a pinch of salt.    Bring to boil and reduce to heat.  Cover and simmer for 25 minutes stirring constantly.  Add the cashew milk and cook for another 5 minutes.    Remove from the heat and add the agave/stevia or honey.   Stir and add the lemon zest.

Pour half the mixture into a bowl.  Puree half the berries and add to the other half of the amaranth porridge.  Mix it in then pour it into the bowl and use a fork or knife to make some swirls to create a marbled effect.  Decorate the amaranth bowl with a mix of berries, nuts and mint leaves.  Serve while still hot.

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My fresh fruit and vegetables today come from Oscar’s Fruit and Vegetables in Paola.  My Tunisian fresh dates come from Deyma Shop Gzira

My cashew milk by Alpro and amaranth come from Good Earth.  My daily selection of fresh fruit and vegetables comes from Big Fresh in Mosta, Oscar’s Fruit and Vegetables in Paola and Barbuto in Sicily for organic vegetables.

Fresh Herb Amaranth

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Fresh Herb Amaranth instead of polenta or mashed potato [Photography Felix Cesare, the food in this photo was cooked during a live tv programme]

‘Everyone loved this fresh herb Amaranth.  It has a consistency of polenta when cooked and the uncooked grains are similar to quinoa.  I  use water as a base instead of cream or milk as the consistency is so creamy.  It is gluten free and protein rich.  I served it with chick peas and fresh broad beans’.

You will need:

1 cup amaranth
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1 natural stock cube
1/2 clove garlic
1/2 onion, finely chopped
6 tablespoons mixed fresh herbs and I use a mix of mint, basil and tarragon
pinch of dried provence herbs
1/2 cup red cabbage, finely shredded and chopped
Black pepper to taste
4 tablespoons olive oil

Prepare the herbs by finely chopping them and the red cabbage by shredding and chopping then immersing completely in boiling water for 2 minutes. Drain and leave aside.

Saute the onion on low heat in one tablespoon of olive oil.  When it becomes translucent add the garlic but do not cook for more than one minute to avoid burning and retain a gentle flavor. Remove from heat.  It will carry on cooking once it is added to the amaranth.

Bring the water with the stock cube to boil and add the amaranth. Add the dried herbs. Reduce the heat and cook using a wooden spoon to stir constantly. After 5 minutes, add the cooked onion and garlic.  Keep cooking and the mixture will get thick and bubbly. Keep a jug of water near you and add water a little at a time as it gets absorbed. Taste to check if the amaranth is cooked enough then add the herbs, finely shredded herbs and olive oil. Lightly stir in and serve as an accompaniment to your main dish.

‘Tip: Add a couple of spoons of amaranth to thicken a soup’

My ingredients for this recipe are by Good Earth with fresh vegetables and herbs by Big Fresh.

Popped Amaranth

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Popped Amaranth  This photo was taken by CJ Baldacchino during a live tv show

‘a great alternative to popcorn.  If  you dip fruit and bananas into a bowl of popped amaranth, it forms a thin coating and makes a crunchy and tasty snack.  The first time I tried to make popped amaranth, it was  not very successful.  You need a very hot pan and to make it is small quantities, a spoonful at a time.  You need patience but its worth it :)’

 

You will need:

3 Tablespoons of raw amaranth

Heat a heavy pan over high heat until it is extremely hot.  Add one tablespoon of raw amaranth.  Cover the pan with a lid, lift the pan from the burner and shake it from side to side.  Provided that the pan is very hot, it will take around 12 seconds for the amaranth to pop.  Remove from the pan immediately to avoid it burning.  Add the next tablespoon of raw amaranth, repeat the process and then pop the last tablespoon of seeds.  The process will not work if you add more than one tablespoon at a time.  The popped amaranth can be stored in an airtight container for up to a month in the fridge. This recipe will give you 1 cup of popped amaranth.

This is a vegan, gluten free, nut free diabetic friendly recipe

Amaranth is available via Good Earth Distributors and you will also find it at Big Fresh in Mosta