Amaranth is best known as a grain, the tiny, tiny seeds of the amaranth plant. But amaranth the green, is wildly nutritious and often passed over as a weed. These leaves are know by a variety of names throughout the world--Callaloo in the Caribbean, Amarante in some Latino countries. I’m going to say it here, right now, these greens are hands down my [second] favorite of the leafy vegetables (dinosaur kale always takes the cake). There’s a good chance you can find amaranth (or by another name) at your local farmers market for a couple more months, but after that it will be difficult to come by. The grains however, have become increasingly more available and popular due to the high protein, low carbohydrate, and gluten-free qualities.
Despite my curiosity in ancient grains, I had yet to introduce amaranth grains into my cooking repertoire. In a bout of creativity and inspiration, I cooked up this amaranth “pancake” using the entire products of the plant. The savory dish is protein-packed and can be sliced up for dinner or eaten cold for a brown bag lunch.
¾ cup amaranth grain
1½ cups water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 sm onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp red chili flakes (optional)
1 lbs Amaranth, leaves trimmed and washed
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp soy sauce
Bring the water to a boil in a small pot. Add the amaranth grains. Cook the grains for 20 minutes until the water is absorbed and the tiny grains are tender. It’s OK if you need to drain off some extra water.
While the grains cook you can prepare the other pancake components. In a small bowl, lightly beat the four eggs, water, and soy sauce together and set aside. Prepare your vegetables; roughly chopped the washed amaranth leaves.
Heat a heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat. Add the olive and sesame oils. Add the onions and garlic and sweat them for about 10 minutes, reducing the heat if the garlic begins to burn. Add the chili flakes if using and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the amaranth greens and stir gently until the greens wilt. Stir in the cooked grains.
Quickly flatten the contents of the skillet to evenly cover the bottom. Pour the egg mixture over the amaranth and tilt the pan and grains to distribute the egg evenly. Cover the skillet and allow the egg to set. Another option is to stick the whole skillet and contents in the oven, this will allow even cooking throughout the pancake. Having the pancake set on the stove risks burning so just be cautious. I flipped the pancake in sections to cook it on both sides; this does not yield the most attractive product but it still tastes fantastic. Slice the pancake into 6-8 triangles. Serve with a green salad or something similarly light.