Move Over Quinoa
Quinoa has gotten rather like Eastenders. Featuring – in my opinion – on our radar far too frequently.
Whether it be quinoa flakes instead of oat porridge, grains instead of rice or cous-cous, or pops instead of rice krispies we’ve gone a bit crazy for this ancient grain the last few years. I can see why. It tastes great, boasts wholesome health benefits, and when you eat it you immediately feel smug and therefore automatically become part of the ever increasing ‘trendy healthy people’ gang. One of the reasons I think quinoa got so popular is because it is a complete protein – meaning it contains all 9 essential amino acids required for growth – usually only to be found in animal proteins. Yes this fact is true – but the protein source of quinoa is quite small given how much you eat at a time – 50g of quinoa will give you as much protein as 1 small humble egg (7g).
Hang on a second, this post is about Amaranth!
Amaranth, quinoa (and millet), are 3 similar ancient gluten-free seed/grains (pseudo grains) that all have similar properties, and functions in cooking. So, lets all spare a thought for amaranth and give it a bit of love! Not only is it actually higher in protein that quinoa (8g per 50g), its not quite so expensive or has such a conflicted moral status (as outlined in this article). Yet. I bought a 250g bag from a health shop for 96p. Quinoa is twice or three times that.
I’ve cooked with amaranth flakes before – you may recall that back in America I came up with these tasty flapjacks. It was an ingredient that featured regularly during my Natural Chef course – both in its whole grain form and ground to a flour. Today I decided to cook it up just as we might do with quinoa and used it to stretch out a tabbouleh salad. Amaranth is rather sticky so this won’t quite have the same look as traditional bulgar tabbouleh, but it has an almost sweet, yet nutty taste.
I wish I could tell you that I foraged for this wild garlic myself, but alas, it came from a farmers market (my poor wallet). I was so delighted to discover the flowers still attached and also learn that they are edible too. They do have a whiff of garlic to them, which will, if you’re not careful contribute to honking garlic breath.
Use the tabbouleh as you would for any tabbouleh – as a side for a multitude of mains. I kept mine seasonal buy topping with grilled Spring British Asparagus and a poached egg. Don’t forget to place your wild garlic flowers on top.
- 75g (1/2 cup) amaranth seed, rinsed
- 125mls (1/2 cup) water
- 75g petit pois peas
- Small bunch of wild garlic leaves (25g), reserve flowers for decoration
- 8 cherry tomatoes, diced
- ½ large cucumber, de-seeded and diced
- 1 spring onion, finely sliced
- 1 Tbs olive oil
- Juice & zest of half a lemon
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp sumac
- Salt and Pepper
- First cook your amaranth. Place in a saucepan with the water and a pinch of salt, cover bring to a simmer, then turn the heat down to low and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes. The amaranth should soak up all the water
- Meanwhile cook the peas, and prepare the rest of the salad ingredients. Finely slice the wild garlic leaves and place in a bowl with the tomatoes, cucumber and spring onion. Add the peas once cooked and rinsed under cold water. Set aside.
- When the amaranth is ready, transfer to a cold sheet pan and allow to cool off.
- Once cool toss with the salad ingredients and add the oil, lemon juice & zest and spices. Stir well. Add a good dose of salt and pepper to taste.
- Will keep in the fridge in a covered container for up to 5 days.
Since this is a super seasonal recipe I am entering it into Ren Behan’s Simple & in Season for May
Have you ever cooked amaranth before? Are you sick of quinoa yet? Give it a try!0