It's best known for it's use by ancient cultures of South America where it was a staple food together with corn and quinoa.
Amaranth seeds are relatively high in protein and therefore nice for vegetarians. They are also good for gluten sensitive people as they are free of gluten.
You can corporate amaranth in your diet by cooking it like rice and serving it as side dish. Or include it in dishes like casseroles or vegetarian burgers.
But the most fun you can get from these tiny seeds is popping them like popcorn.
Popped amaranth makes a delicious light and fluffy breakfast cereal. Mix it with milk, soymilk or yogurt. Combine it with oats and add fresh or dried fruits - just like regular cereals.
You can prepare them as a savory snack as well. They taste pretty similar to popcorn. Just use your favorite savory popcorn seasoning and sprinkle it on top of popped amaranth.
This instructable requires the use of a stove and a really hot pot. Please be careful, don't burn yourself or others.
If you want to do this project with kids be extra careful...
Step 1: Materials Needed
a pot (I recommend using a pot with a heavy bottom)
a corresponding pot lid (preferably made of glass)
either: a bowl or plate to put the popped amaranth in
or: a tea towel (If you want to make a bigger batch I recommend to spread the finished amaranth on a tea towel before you put it into a storage container)
Popping amaranth is fairly easy and quick as soon you have a feeling for the process.
But be prepared to possibly to burn some amaranth at your very first attempts. It first takes a little practice - but then it's super easy. (At least thats what I experienced)
Step 2: Let Them Pop
The pot should be really hot, if its not hot enough the grains won't pop quickly enough an some will already burn while others aren't even thinking of popping...
Before starting the popping process you should prepare all of your tools. As the amaranth pops fast - and also starts to burn fast after popping - keep the bowl or tea towel within reach.
So let's start:
Put your pot on the stove and turn the heat on full speed.
Give your pot some time to heat up.
To check if the heat is good to go, drop some drops of water into your pot.
If it sizzles on the ground of your pan it means your not ready jet.
The drops should form into balls of hot water that whizz around in your pan.
As soon you pot arrived at that stage you can start with the amaranth (if the test-water-drops jet aren't already vaporised you should kick them out of the pot before adding the amaranth)
For the first test I recommend to start with a very small amount - like half a teaspoon. So you can get a feeling for the process without potentially wasting lots of food by burning...
Add the seeds to the hot pot, close the lid and immediately start to slightly shake the pot above the stove. Moving the pot helps to avoids burning the seeds and gives a much nicer result than just keeping the pot on the stove.
You will recognize the popping sounds of the amaranth. It isn't as loud as popcorn but you will recognize it.
Depending on the amount of seeds you use it takes about 10 to 30 seconds to let them all pop.
When you recognize the decreasing of popping sounds - immediately transfer the amaranth to your bowl or tea towel .
Check your pot - You don't want to leave any popped seeds in the pot. They would burn with your next batch and smell and taste unpleasant.
Repeat the process until you produced the desired amount of popped amaranth.
As soon you feel like a popping-pro you can increase the amount of seeds. The maximum of seeds depends on the size of your pot. The bottom of the pot shouldn't be completely covered with seeds. The picture above shows a good relation of seeds to pot-surface. If you use too much seeds they won't be able to pop properly.
I usually lower the heat after a few batches. But the amount of heat you need depends on how fast you work and which kind of pot you use...
Usually almost all of the grains pop, but like with popcorn there always remain some unpopped. While those kernels are unpleasant in your popcorn - there's no need to bother about them in your amaranth.
The unpopped ones are just roasted amaranth - although they aren't as fluffy as the popped ones they taste nice and crunchy.
Step 3: Watch a Movie
This may give you an better idea about the timing and handling of the procedure.
Alltogether you can see me preparing four batches in the video.
The second batch is made without the lid on. I did this only to show the action - Usually I always put on the lid on in order to avoid a messy kitchen - And thats what I recommend you to do as well.. : )
As you can see it takes about two minutes to get a nice amount of popped amaranth. Enough for one person for breakfast.
Step 4: Tips for Bulk Produktion:
I like to prepare a big batch in advance - so my only challenge in the morning is to pour it in a bowl and eat it.
The popped amaranth stores very well in a airtight container, the only thing is:
You may allow it to cool down to let the remaining humidity evaporate before you put it in the container.
The best method I found is to spread out a tea towel and to distribute the fresh popped amaranth on it.
Continue popping amaranth until the tea towel is covered with pops.
Let it sit for a minute or so till its completely cool.
Take the corners of the tea towel and lift it up to your container.
Fill it into your container and close it.
Enjoy your amaranth cereal in the morning without any burning marks!
Step 5: Time to Eat
Popped Amaranth is a really nice breakfast cereal.
I like to eat it pure as well as mixed with rolled oats.
You can add fresh or frozen or dried fruits, nuts, honey, etc. ....
Mix it with milk, soy milk, yogurt etc. ...
Spice it up with cinnamon or vanilla....
Have a nice breakfast!
For a savory amaranth-pops experience mix them with your favorite popcorn seasoning.
I like to drizzle some oil, powdered paprika and garlic, salt and pepper on top. Sometimes i also add siracha sauce and a little bit of ketchup...
Tastewise I think popped amaranth is almost nicer than popcorn. But it also has a downside: you can't eat it without a spoon. Although this doesn't bother me while I'm alone - I don't consider this snack convenient for a social gathering...
Other ideas to use popped amaranth:
It is a fabulous base for granola. I highly recommend popped amaranth granola.
You can use them like breadcrumbs and sprinkle them on top of steamed cauliflower or salad.
I've read some people like to add it to their bread dough. (But haven't tried it myself yet)
Be creative and play with it - I'm curious to see your new ideas for how to use popped amaranth!