Saturday, September 13, 2008

Weekend Herb Blogging: Amaranth Salad


Every now and then I stumble across ingredients that I am just not sure how to cook. A lot of these finds have come from the Thai family who sells produce at my farmers market. With the seasons changing, today I saw a new ingredient I tried in early summer and just never got posted — amaranth.

The color attracted me, this brilliant purple and green. I had to know what it was and how to cook it. The best idea I could get from the woman selling it was to make a tea. I bought a bunch, brought it home. I poured through all my cookbooks and online trying to find recipes. The closest I could get was a few sentences in Alice Water's Chez Panisse Vegetables that said to saute the greens with garlic or use in a salad. That's it. Other than references to its use as a grain. So, I will now best the goddess of local food herself and offer up an actual amaranth recipe. Heh.

Both the grain and leaves come from amaranth. There are about sixty species of the plants, otherwise known as pigweed. Some edible and many are not. The varieties that are commonly known as pigweed are one of the most common weeds impacting soy and cotton crops. At least one species of amaranth has evolved to be "roundup resistant."

I opted to use some of the amaranth with salad greens. Amaranth has a nice earthy flavor that I wanted to pair with a vinaigrette and something for balance. Blueberries fit for summer, but the dish would work well with the figs that are in season now.

Amaranth Salad
Looking for this recipe? It will be part of an upcoming book with Ali at Cleaner Plate Club.

This post is participating in Weekend Herb Blogging, which was started by Kalyn at Kalyn's Kitchen.

7 comments:

caitlin said...

I've been reading your blog for a while now, and now that I'm in college (yucky food), your entries make me crave actual good food.

Rachel said...

I'm really excited that you put amaranth's alternative name - pigweed - in the post, B. Pigweed is really common here in Australia; in fact, they sell it at the local bushfoods nursery. Now I know what I'll be buying next. Doesn't amaranth also appear in gluten-free bread recipes?

Expatriate Chef said...

Caitlin, good luck to you! I think it was the college years that really made me want to start cooking for myself!

Amaranth does appear in gluten-free recipes, that would be the grain and not the leaves in that case.

katiez said...

Well, my day is done.... I've learned something new! I thought amranth was just a grain, didn't know about the greens (or should I say, purples) How pretty....

Kalyn said...

This is obviously the ingredient of the week and I haven't ever tried it. I don't think I've ever seen it for sale here, need to check Whole Foods or maybe the farmer's market. I'm quite intrigued to try it; the salad sounds great!

syrie said...

Thank you for introducing me to something new. I don't think I've ever seen this before but I'm going to keep an eye out for it.

maybelle's mom said...

Oh, such a pretty amaranth entry. When I cooked it, it wasn't quite as pretty.