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Aug 4, 2008 11:33 AM

Help me identify this green, something that sounds similar to amaranth

I bought this lovely bunch of greens at the farmers market and I thought the vendor said amaranth , but googling seems to turn that up as a grain.

This was mainly green and has some bunches with scarlet leaves. The vendor said it had to be cooked and couldn't be eaten raw. Does this sound familiar to anyone? The leaves were sort of like ... uh ... mint ... but BIG mint leaves maybe three times that size.

I can't make anything with these unless I can look up a recipe. Please help

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  1. Did they look like this?


    If so, they are indeed amaranth greens. These Chinese eat these quite often stir-fried. They're pretty good, but have this peculiar texture. I can't come up with the correct word -- gritty perhaps?

    1. Oh, never mind ... It turns out is is amaranth which also can be used as a green. From this chow ingrediants link ...

      Other names:African spinach, bush greens, calailu, callaloo, Chinese spinach, hinn-choy, Indian spinach, Joseph’s coat, strawberry spinach, tampala.

      6 Replies
      1. re: rworange

        Also known as Quintoniles or more generically as Quelites... an essential seasonal ingredient of the Mexico City & surrounding State's cuisines.

        1. re: Eat_Nopal

          Quintonil is one of the most delicious greens on earth! But there are perhaps hundreds of cultivars as these greens look different from region to region in Mexico. The most delicious, the most flavorful I have had are those sold by the "marias" (term used to refer to women without fixed stalls who sell on on the periphery of traditional markets, usually by sitting on the ground) in the Sierra Norte de Puebla (could this be bec of the altitude?) Specifically, one of the marias in the gorgeous, gorgeous town of Zacatlan sold me a bunch (which she called something that sounded like "cantonil") which I asked my friend Otilia who owns a fonda inside the market to steam for me. Simply steamed quintonil: nothing in the world more delicious!

          The specific cultivar you found (which is not only delicious but also very beautiful) is probably the type commonly found in Chicago in Asian markets under the Vietnamese name "rau den". At the corner of Ainslie and Kenmore, there is a large plot of land dedicated to the cultivation of Asian vegetables like Malabar spniach (rau mong toi), Thai basil, bitter melon, amaranth greens, ong choy etc. A lot of these vegetables end up in the produce section of the Asian groceries in the Argyle district a couple of blocks away. You can't get more local than that! Unfortunately the local media and local locavores are so besotted by their own fashionableness while going every week "to see and be seen" at the farmers-markets-of-privilege to even be aware of the existence of these many other sources and channels of local produce (another wonderful local produce at its peak now: the heavenly bai maeng lak, used for khanom jeen-finer, more fragrant, more persistent in flavor than your usual "lemon basil", grown in local backyards and brought to be sold at local Thai groceries.) One little word of warning about rau den though: the red color leaches out. So if you don't want a magenta tinting on your food, avoid using this greens with rice noodles, tofu, white meat.

          Re: callaloo

          The word refers to quite a range of greens, inclg amaranth but not always so. I have seen many diff species of greens in diff Caribbean/African groceries in Chicago marked as callaloo. Two days ago, I was at a Nigerian/Caribbean market and saw several beauitful (also locally grown) bunches of what were clearly amaranth greens but of a cultivar I had never seen before being sold as callaloo. When I asked, the Mexican stocker called it quelite.


          1. re: JiyoHappy

            Soup of Amaranth Greens, Mushrooms & Dried Pasilla Chiles

            Chicken, Potatoes & Amaranth Greens braised in Tomato-Guajillo sauce

            Pork & Amaranth Greens in Pumpkin Seed Mole

            Also there are the roadside vendors around Toluca dishing up crispy tacos stuffed with garlicky Amaranth Greens... the obligatory Pork Spareribs in Roasted Tomatillo-Jalapeno Sauce with greens etc, or the Tamales made with Amaranth grain & greens interspersed throughout the masa... oh and Bean & Amaranth Green pancakes, as well as Amaranth Fritters in Pasilla Sauce.,.. there are an infinite number of dishes featuring this tasty green.

            1. re: Eat_Nopal

              Thanks. Here's what I did with my first bunch on the Home Cooking board along with some additional recipes

              Interesting article here (with recipes) about the significance of amaranth in Mexico.

              The first few sentences ...

              "What food was considered so important to the diet of Mexico's pre-Hispanic population that it was fashioned into images of the gods and eaten as communion? What food was outlawed during the conquest of Mexico, and the people of New Spain forbidden to cultivate or consume? And finally, what food contains between 75% and 87% of total human nutritional requirements? If you've answered "amaranth" to all of the above, congratulations."

          2. re: rworange

            Callaloo is both the name of this vegetable and of the delicious Caribbean seafood stew that features this vegetable. There's a good recipe for it here:

            And here's a good recipe for coo-coo, the cornmeal dumpling that is a traditional accompaniment to callaloo in the Virgin Islands, where I had it years ago while working at the College (now University) of the Virgin Islands:


          3. Does anyone know the Indian name for this, or in what way it's typically used in Indian cooking? I swear I've had this at home before but I can't pinpoint it.

            3 Replies
              1. The original comment has been removed
                1. Amaranth and amaranth greens are both edible and delicious. The greens sometimes have a purplish color in addition to the green. They taste like sweet spinach.

                  1 Reply