A spring or two ago we were lucky enough to speak with local Coburg resident, Amne, after her cooking demonstration at Joe’s Garden. She told me she has 3 traditional dishes for young amaranth, or Etayfe in Arabic, that we could share with customers. But which one should we share with you? I ask her which is her favourite. “Everyone always loves the tomato dish, they’re always wanting more“, she says, “but when I cook, I cook with my whole heart, so I will tell you all three!“ Well, when you put it like that, Amne!
Amne grew up in a village in northern Lebanon, and is an expert when it comes to eating edible ‘weeds’ like amaranth, which is high in protein and minerals and has been long cultivated here in the market garden by Joe Garita and family.
Many thanks to Amne for sharing these recipes with us. And apologies, no strict quantities for the ingredients! Cook with your whole heart, just like Amne, it’ll be great.
Amaranth braised with tomato and coriander
Take the leaves off the amaranth stems and wash them well to remove any dirt. Chop them up a little, it doesn’t need to be fine. In fact if they leaves are small they can remain whole, otherwise a rough 1cm chop is good.
Heat some vegetable oil in a pan or heavy based pot, and gently sauté the chopped onion. When the onion is getting towards golden, add garlic and fresh coriander and stir for a few seconds. Add the diced (and peeled) tomatoes, the chopped amaranth and a pinch of salt, then simmer for 5 minutes.
Add a drizzle of fresh olive oil just before you turn off the heat, to make it all taste extra wonderful. Enjoy with fresh bread (homemade Lebanese pide of course), and fresh radishes and onion on the side.
Amaranth and Burghul two ways
Wash and chop the amaranth as above. You can also include some of the soft lower stem here, but not the top of the stem as it will be too tough.
Bring a pot of salted water to the boil, and simmer the amaranth with a cup or two of burghul (depending on your greens to grain ratio preference and amount of greens you have to cook). After about 10 minutes the burghul will be soft, just test it by pinching it between your fingers.
Drain and rinse in fresh cold water to keep the amaranth green. Squeeze the excess water out with your hands.
Here you have two options, both are to be eaten straight away, either cold or warm:
A) with cooked onion, or B) with fresh garlic and lemon. I know, it’s hard to decide.
A) Sauté onions in a pan with garlic and oil, and once they are golden combine with the amaranth and burghul along with a dash of fresh olive oil on top.
B) Crush garlic until it is really smooth – Amne recommends giving it a seriously good bash with a hammer, I’d use salt and crush with a heavy knife but will try the hammer trick for sure – and stir it in to the amaranth with good olive oil, salt and lemon juice.
Again, enjoy with pide and fresh radishes and spring onions on the side.
sounds awesome. What about cooking with the seed? There are green and red varieties I’ve seen but not sure if one is better than the other, or if amaranth seed comes from a different plant altogether.
Jane, the amaranth plants you often see with the big beautiful flower tassels (which are then FULL of small seeds) are the brother/sister of the leaf amaranth variety. If you have some growing, yes you can harvest the seed and use in the kitchen. Perhaps have a look online for tips on harvesting/eating homegrown amaranth seed (grain).
Thank you for the top tips- have just been out to Ceres today and bought a lovely bunch from Joe’s garden. Will try the recipes suggested. The burghul sounds great.
Well done very nice of the people like you are helping the community and bringing everything fresh God bless you and I can’t wait to try everything you guys provide