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Aug 4, 2008 11:57 AM

Ideas for amaranth - aka African spinach, callaloo, Indian spinach, tampala

... and a few other names - bush greens, calailu, Chinese spinach, hinn-choy, Joseph’s coat, strawberry spinach ... according to this Chow ingrediant link

As a few of these past links mention, it is quite beautiful ... some leaves green and others scarlett .. and I bought a huge bunch for a dollar at the farmers market on Sunday. This is not the grain, but the green.

How should I cook amaranth?

- sautee
- drop in soup
- Greek horta

Tips: The red leaves will leach into things and color them like beets, The longer you cook it, the more bitter the greens

The vendor I bought this from said it needed to be cooked, but I'm reading it is ok to eat raw. Will I die?

what to do with amaranth?

- sautee
- parboil and sautee
- braise

Any other ideas? Also, what is the best way to store these? I put some in a cup of water like basil and they didn't like that. The others loosely stored in a plastic bag seem in better condition but they aren't as pristine and stunning as yesterday.

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  1. I used some in salads, and it was great for contrast with other greens. Nice earthy, mineral taste. Bonus: It did not kill me!

    1 Reply
    1. re: trentyzan

      my mother sautes it like spinach with garlic.

    2. An easy thing is to blanch it in boiling water, drain, then use in any cooked spinach recipe. I like it in fritattas a lot. Goes great with beans (dried, that is), garlic, chiles, sausages, pork, etc. It's lovely just stir-fried with garlic & soy sauce. Raw is fine too, though I'm not fond of it myself.

      1. yer post came at a great time...i just picked up a beautiful bunch of the red stuff at my local farmers market after reading a couple recipes out of Raghaven Iver's 660 curries book...he has 2 recipes that use it: Amaranth Leaves with peanuts and Red Amaranth with a coconut chili sauce.

        Iyer states that the red is more assertive in flavor than the green and to prep the leaves by cutting off the tough stems, then soak the bunch. My amaranth has flowers on it and i'm assuming it's ok to keep them on.

        I'll post a summary of the amaranth with coconut chilie recipe and review once i make it this week.

        2 Replies
        1. re: sixelagogo

          Thanks ... today is the day I use the amaranth and nice to know about soaking. One recipe says to reserve the stems for something else. Not sure what though.

          Eating raw seems to be reserved for young amarynth and these look more mature ... but I will give one a nibble.

          Interesting about why it is often used in tropical climates since it is a very heat-tolerant green. The article also has a recipe for dressing them with a tarrago mustard vinagrette which just somehow sounds right.

          I'm probably going to just stir-fry as I have some Chinese pink garlic I want to try, but I'm debating about this other recipe since I have all the ingrediants

          Cabbage Stir Fry With Amaranth

          This had a lot of recipes for wild amaranth which I assume would work with farmed
          - Wild Amaranth Quiche
          - Wild Amaranth Lasagna
          - Wild Amaranth Hamburger Helper (ok, this is tempting)
          - Wild Amaranth Spanokopita, Wild Amaranth Cocktail (a way to use the cooking broth if blanched ... I think adding a shot of vodka might work here)

          I also am tempted by this recipe for spiced amaryth. It also had some interesting info and a link to the merits and demerits of amaranth

          "amaranth is loaded with vitamins A and C, and iron, calcium and quite a bit of protein for a leafy green. However, the plant is also relatively high in oxalic acid, which can inhibit absorption of calcium. And it apparently can produce harmful nitrites, if cooked amaranth greens are reheated"

          This was a cool general article that said the leaves 'like spinach with a touch of horseradish" and the boiled stems taste like a little like artichokes. Interesting idea that instead of adding a pat of butter to cooked greens ... dress with peanut butter mixed with water.

          Amaranth spinach served with mashed pumpkin

          Very interesting article about the importance of amaranth in Mexico and some recipes

          - Pollo en Amaranto: Chicken in Amaranth Sauce
          - Croquetas de Papa con Amaranto:Amaranth-Potato Croquettes
          - Sopa de Calabaza y Elote con Amaranto: Squash, Corn and Amaranth Soup

          Grilled cheese with amaranth leaves and blackberry sauce

          1. re: rworange

            I have a book called "The Complete Book of Caribbean Cooking" by Elizabeth Lambert Ortiz. It has pretty detailed information about ingredients including all the name variations. When you mentioned "callalloo" it rang a bell so I looked it up. It refers to a creole soup from Trinidad containing the young leaves of certain "aroids" along with okra, eggplant, salt pok, green bananas, spices, vinegar and coconut milk. Swiss chard is mentioned as a possible substitution for the leaves. It is recommended to be served with creole rice and codfish salad! Calaloo (and it's variations) is apparently ubiquitous throughout the region.

        2. Well, I tried it raw, boiled, sauteed and in a variation of this bean dish.

          Black Beans and Greens

          They stored very well in the crisper drawer in a plastic grocery bag.

          Soaking them perked them up to their pristine state.

          Raw - to me they had a taste a little like sorrel, slightly sour.

          I liked the cooked stems the most. They really do taste like artichokes, with a touch of asparagas.

          The advice not to overcook should not be ignored ... they get really bitter.

          Lightly ... very lightly sauteed in olive oil with garlic they kept that nice sorrel taste.

          Boiled, I liked them dressed better dressed with butter than olive oil. They really do take to cheese. I tossed the one batch I over-cooked with grated cheese and it cut the bitterness. I am betting that the recipes mxing it with ricotta would be very good

          My variation of the bean dish was only ok.

          Eat_Nopal had some good recipes in this link

          A few more recipes I found

          Amaranth and Portabello Fettucine

          Amaranth Stem Kootu

          Amaranth or Chinese Spinach Soup


          Oh ... and this didn't remind me of spinach one bit except for the oxalic acid which made my mouth puckery.

          Thanks for all the help.

          1 Reply
          1. re: rworange

            Likewise, bought some big leaf and small leaf amaranth this afternoon from an organic market. Here's what I did after some browsing, couldn't find a recepie I wanted:

            One large handful of amaranth leaves, stalks cut off (could have left them on it seems...!), blanched(?) for 5 mins
            One handful of small amaranth leaves, leaves pulled off, and thrown in with big leaves for 2-3 mins. Drain.

            In a pan, gently soften and brown an onion sliced into half rings, two cloves of garlic and half a chilli.
            Remove onions, garlic and chilli, set aside.
            In same pan, quickly fry a medium sized steak cut into thin slices for 5 mins. Add a little pepper.
            Remove steak strips, add to bowl of onion, garlic, and chilli.

            Cut 6-7 cherry tomatoes into halves, add a little olive oil, cook on high heat for 2 mins, add amaranth. Amaranth should be soft. Loosen with tongs, add salt and pepper. Add a little more olive oil if necessary. Add in two handfuls of spinach.
            Add back steak strips, onion, garlic and chilli. Mix well. Keep turning until spinach softens.

            Serve with a touch of feta cheese broken up on top. Good small, quick dinner for two.

            Came out freakin delicious!! I might have cooked the amaranth too long, not sure. But it tasted great anyway, and was really fast to make. :) wish i'd taken a photo now....