Amaranth is an herb that is technically not a grain, but is often used like a grain because of its abundance of grain like seeds. It can be cooked as a cereal, ground into flour, popped like popcorn, sprouted, or toasted. The seeds can be cooked with other whole grains, added to stir-fry or to soups and stews as a nutrient dense thickening agent.
The amaranth plant grows as high as 7 feet or taller with a celery-like stalk that tastes somewhat like an artichoke. The leaves can be green or red, depending on the variety.
Selecting and Buying
Preparation and Use
Use the leaves in place of spinach in a variety of cooked dishes. Amaranth flour is used in making pastas and baked goods. It must be mixed with other flours for baking yeast breads, as it contains no gluten. One part amaranth flour to 3-4 parts wheat or other grain flours may be used. In the preparation of flatbreads, pancakes and pastas, 100% amaranth flour can be used. Sprouting the seeds will increase the level of some of the nutrients and the sprouts can be used on sandwiches and in salads, or just to munch on.
Conserving and Storing
Amaranth greens, which can be served as a good substitute for spinach, will last several days but are best if prepared immediately after being harvested. To store, place the stems with leaves in a plastic bag and refrigerate.