Did you know that amaranth is actually a seed of a plant and that you can eat the leaves too? I went to pick up a basket of organic veggies the other day and there was an unrecognizeable stalk with some leaves dangling off of it. The lady told me it was amaranth.
I'm familiar with the seeds but I never saw an unrooted amaranth stalk. After some research, it turns out that I grew up eating amaranth leaves without ever realizing it. It is a staple food to the Aztecs and it's used in Asian cuisine too. In Chinese it is called xiàncài,莧菜. Apparently there are many species and it comes in a large range in colors from light to dark green shades, and violet to red leaf hues.
My mother would sauté the amaranth (xiàncài,莧菜) and include that in the many dishes served in front of us. Similar to spinach, it offers the same nutritional qualities full of antioxidants, protein, vitamins, calcium, iron and minerals. FYI, I used those few dangling leaves in my japchae dish.
Categorized as a whole-grain food, it is actually a seed. Just like quinoa, it has a higher plant protein and calcium content compared to its other grain competitors. It's gluten-free too.
You can cook this as the grain portion of your meal, have it for breakfast as porridge, pop it and use it as toppings for yogurt, salad, dessert, and other dishes.
INGREDIENTS// Yields 1/2 cup
• 3 tablespoons amaranth seed, uncooked
Heat a pan over medium to high heat.
Add a drop of water to it. If it sizzles and evaporates immediately, your pan is good to go.
Add one tablespoon of amaranth at a time. It should begin to pop immediately. If not, then your pan is not hot enough. Then entire popping process should take less than 10 seconds. Not all of it will pop so remove it from the heat before it burns and transfer it to a bowl.
Let it cool completely before you store it in a sealed jar or container.
It took me a couple of tries until I got this right. You will know when you get it right. It will take a matter of seconds before the amaranth begins to pop so if it is taking longer it means your pan is not hot enough. Also, I don't use a cover for the pan so it gets slightly messy, but a hoover will take care of that quickly.