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“Weird” Grains: Amaranth

February 18, 2011

Finally got my copy of “Super Natural Cooking” by Heidi Swanson of 101cookbooks.com. Kicking myself for not having gotten it sooner. Seems like this is a great way to explore weird grains that I’ve never quite understood what to do with. Helpful instructional sections with great “lessons” in the form of recipes.

My first attempt was the very first recipe – “Seed-Crusted Amaranth Biscuits.” The “weird” grain in here is – you guessed it – amaranth. A few pages later, there’s a recipe for amaranth souffle that uses both whole amaranth grains and amaranth flour. I’m supposed to stock both? That seems like quite an inventory challenge. If only there were a way to easily convert the grain into the flour in a home kitchen.

The cookbook provides some background on amaranth, but there’s even more interesting stuff on Wikipedia. Did you know that amaranth may be “the grain of the future”?  It’s easy to harvest, high-yield, tolerant of arid environments, and high in protein. Now I’m wondering if I could grow some on my balcony this summer, where it’s very windy and thus very dry. Amaranth – grain of Incas, Aztecs, and Cantabrigians. Oh yeah.

This recipe also uses whole wheat flour and whole wheat pastry flour, as well as a bit of a choose-your-own adventure on seeds (I chose sesame, black sesame, and flax seed).

The resulting biscuits are awesome – way better than any plain-jane white bread biscuits! The flavor is complex and interesting. It’s not quite nutty, although that’s what I keep wanting to call it. Heidi recommends pairing these with butter, but I preferred some strawberry-balsamic jam I got as a favor at a wedding in NC this summer. The jam is a little sweet and a little tart – just perfect.

Baked Seed-Crusted Amaranth Biscuits

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