Amaranth… ama… who??
Now be honest with me… have you heard of amaranth before? Or even better, have you tasted it before? I hadn’t. I had heard about it but it was some far ringing thing in terms of ‘o yes that sounds vaguely familiar’ but I had no idea how it looked, let alone know how it tasted. So when I saw it in the store I could simply not let the opportunity pass and buy a bag of amaranth.
It looks a little bit like quinoa except the grains are even finer and once cooked the amaranth is a lot stickier then quinoa. Taste wise I would say the two are pretty similar too. Both take really well to adapting different kinds of flavors and while I haven’t tried it in a sweet version I have been reading that it would work too.
Amaranth itself is a grain with a pretty interesting history. The Aztecs thought it had superpowers and even used it in their religious ceremonies, while the Spanish where so appalled by those same ceremonies that the grain was forbidden and fell of the radar for the next hundreds of years. The Aztecs used to make shapes of their idols/Gods out of a mixture of ground amaranth, honey or human blood and then those were eaten during a religious ceremony…
Being naturally glutenfree it is a grain that is slowly rising in popularity and is seen more often in health food stores or stores that have gluten free products. The amaranth can be ground and then used as a flour in baking or making pasta, it can be used as a type of popcorn, in Peru they make beer out of it and it can be used in sweet dishes for breakfast or dessert too. So pretty versatile, again I would say, a lot like quinoa!
I made the amaranth this afternoon into a delicious salad. It was tasty for sure but if you do not like the texture of quinoa, you will most certainly not like the texture of amaranth. And while I liked it, I didn’t think it was that different from quinoa which I always have in the house so unless I am convinced of that in the upcoming dishes I will create with this grain (it’s not really a grain by the way but more a seed) I think I’m gonna stick with the quinoa. But let me know if you have another opinion on amaranth or some great dishes I should try!
Amaranth salad with halloumi
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 5 mins
Total Time: 25 mins
- 75 g amaranth
- 50g halloumi (cut into cubes)
- sunflower oil (for roasting the halloumi)
- 2-3 tablespoons pomegranate seeds
- 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro (chopped)
- 1/2 smoked pepper (chopped)
- 1 tablespoon lemon mayonaise
- 1/2 lime (juice only)
- 1-2 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar
- mixed salad leaves
|Cook the amaranth according to package instructions or roughly 15 minutes in 150 ml of water. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and put the lid on while you leave it bubbling away.
In the meantime fry the halloumi in a small layer of sunflower oil in a frying pan and leave to drain on kitchen paper
|Leave the amaranth to cool. It will still look very sticky. You want the grains to be soft but still a bit crunchy.
Add the pomegranate seeds to the amaranth once cooled, add cilantro and smoked peppers and mix everything well.
|Make a dressing by putting lemon mayonaise and the balsamic vinegar together and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can add the lime juice to the dressing but I added the lime juice directly to the amaranth and then added dressing to the amount needed which was really very little.|
|Put some of the salad leaves in a shallow bowl or on a plate. Add the amaranth mix on top, sprinkle with some extra pomegranate seeds and the halloumi cubes.|
Recipe by Simone van den Berg