I wasn’t expecting to touch amaranth until breakfast, and there are no photos, just some fast comments. I came home and most of my dinner was already cooked for me, but I needed a side and didn’t want to bother with a frozen entree. I had tried quinoa before and it worked just fine, light and nutty. I had a bit of lamb, still warm, so I made a red wine reduction (cabernet sauvignon this time, better than shiraz), and got out the amaranth.

I used 3 ounces (by volume) of amaranth in 6 ounces of water, in a 2 quart saucepan with glass lid, heated to a boil, and reduced to a simmer. I started with the pot covered, and uncovered it around 14-15 minutes because it was looking watery. It was visibly different within 12 minutes, but I cooked it a whole 20 minutes, to get rid of as much water as I could. Sources I’ve seen say it takes 18-20 minutes to cook.

Amaranth is mild, has a nutty flavor, I’ve heard others write of malt overtones. That’s possible. The superior protein content (also here) of amaranth makes this an interesting alternative to rice, or corn. The seeds are tiny, much smaller than quinoa or barley, and so it doesn’t have the satisfying chewiness I get with cooked quinoa and barley. I can’t decide whether it reminds me of cream of wheat or malt-o-meal, but it’s reminding me of one of those. Of the two “super grains”, I think I prefer quinoa, but wouldn’t turn this down.

I ate all of it. I don’t regret it one bit.

It have nothing against oatmeal per se, I’ve eaten a ton of it and if I were a regular breakfast eater, I’d probably eat more of it. It’s a grain, it’s cheap, it cooks fast. If you look at the nutrition profile for plain instant oatmeal on the nutritiondata site, you’ll see it’s pretty good for you. However, as we enter the 21st century, there are two whole “grains” that have an excellent nutritional profile, and equally important, they cook fast. These two are amaranth and quinoa.

Amaranth is on the left. Quinoa is in the middle. Pearled barley is on the right.

Amaranth is on the left. Quinoa is in the middle. Pearled barley is on the right.

For now I’ve been using them as part of the grain component in various soups, and Deborah Madison has suggested soups using the mix of corn, amaranth and quinoa. I’m curious if either of these can be used as a direct substitute for oatmeal in the morning meal. Yes, there will be more cooking time with these two than with instant oatmeal, but not too much more, and they will cook faster than pearled barley, for example.

Looking for people who have traveled this path, I find a recipe for breakfast quinoa here, and one for amaranth here. The Blogger Reforming Daily notes that both amaranth and quinoa are gluten free.

I intend to try both over the next few days, and I’ll report the results for quinoa here, and eventually amaranth here.