Have you ever heard of amaranth? Amaranth is similar to quinoa, but much smaller. It contains many health benefits:
Amaranth seeds contain lysine, an essential amino acid, limited in other grains or plant sources. Most fruits and vegetables do not contain a complete set of amino acids, and thus different sources of protein must be used. Amaranth too is limited in some essential amino acids, such as leucine and threonine.Amaranth seeds are therefore promising complement to common grains such as wheat germ, oats, corn because these common grains are abundant sources of essential amino acids found to be limited in amaranth.
Amaranth may be a promising source of protein to those who are gluten sensitive, because unlike the protein found in grains such as wheat and rye, its protein does not contain gluten. According to a 2007 report, amaranth compares well in nutrient content with gluten-free vegetarian options such as buckwheat, corn, millet, wild rice, oats and quinoa.
Several studies have shown that like oats, amaranth seed or oil may be of benefit for those with hypertension and cardiovascular disease; regular consumption reduces blood pressure and cholesterol levels, while improving antioxidant status and some immune parameters. While the active ingredient in oats appears to be water-soluble fiber, amaranth appears to lower cholesterol via its content of plant stanols and squalene. (source: Wikipedia)
This started with a recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow’s amazing cookbook called “It’s All Good”, which I’ve recently purchased. However, as usual, I always end-up changing the recipe based on what I have on-hand and/or what I feel like.
So it turned out nothing like the original recipe but, although not looking super nice, it was absolutely delicious!!! We ended-up eating that for dinner, so this recipe below feeds 2 as a meal, or 4-6 as appetizers.
Amaranth and chickpea ‘falafel’
- 1/2 cup raw organic amaranth (or quinoa, or millet), rinsed
- unrefined grey sea salt
- 1 can organic chickpeas (398 ml), rinsed, crushed with a potato masher
- 1/2 large organic shallot, thinly sliced (or scallions)
- 1/4 cup finely chopped organic parsley
- 1 organic lemon
- high quality extra virgin organic olive oil for cooking
- 1 medium size organic tomato (whichever kind/colour you prefer, in season preferably), cut in tiny cubes
- a handful of organic cherry tomatoes, cut in half (orange or yellow would be awesome)
- 1/2 ripe, but firm, organic pear, washed, cut in tiny cubes
- 2 tsp chopped organic parsley
- 1/2 organic shallot, minced
- 2 tsp freshly squeezed organic lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp high quality extra-virgin organic olive oil
- unrefined grey sea salt
Start the falafel: Combine the amaranth with 1 cup of fresh spring or filtered water and a big pinch of salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, immediately lower the heat (it goes overboard pretty quickly), cover the pot and cook until very soft and most of the water absorbed, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the salsa. Simply combine all the ingredients in a medium size bowl, seasoning to taste with salt. Set aside while you finish the falafel.
Back to the falafel… Stir the chickpeas, shallots, and parsley into the cooked (drained) amaranth. Using a Microplane grater (or the smallest side of your cheese grater), zest about 1/2 of the organic lemon (organic is mandatory when you use zest) and stir the zest into the amaranth mixture along with 2 Tbsp of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Using a potato masher, crush the mixture until it holds together a bit. You can wait a couple of minutes as well to help.
Set a large heavy pan over medium-high heat and once it’s hot, reduce the temperature just above medium, add a generous amount of olive oil to make sure the bottom of the pan is covered. Drop large tablespoonfuls of the mixture into the pan with a bit of space in between each. Press each spoonful down with the back of the spoon or with a spatula, to form a sort of thick pancake (no need to go crazy shaping these). Cook until browned and crisp, about 3 minutes per side. Once cooked, keep on a warm plate while cooking the rest.
Serve immediately with a generous amount of the pear salsa on top, and a green salad on the side.