Vegetable amaranth (hin choy)

Yield: 1 Servings

Measure Ingredient
Amaranth (hin choy)

Nutritionally, both the leaves and grain of amaranth are of unusual value. Tasting like spinach with a touch of horseradish, the raw greens have substantially more calcium than beet greens, kale, chard, and spinach, and more iron than all these leaf vegetables and collards as well. Because the gigantic amaranth yields four times more green matter than comparably light-and-carbon-dioxide-efficient plants, researchers have declared it an outstanding source of leaf protein concentrates that can be used as fodder or as human food.

You can eat the stems and leaves of young stem tips together, but it's best to cook the more mature stems alone for 8 to 10 minutes (they taste a little like artichokes). To retain the most iron and vitamin C in the leaves, steam them for 10 minutes. You can then serve them with butter or mixed with peanut butter you've blended with water.

If you like, add the raw leaves to soup broth or stir-fry them in heated oil in which you've browned a garlic clove, then stir-fry in some ground pork, add boiling water, and simmer a while. You can also chop and stir-fry the larger shoots with bean sprouts and other vegetables, adding a little soy sauce and water during the last 3 to 5 minutes of cooking. Or try incorporating the leaves in vegetable curries as people do in India and Ceylon.

For more good eating, combine a pound of cooked, drained fresh amaranth with 1 pound of ricotta cheese, 1 beaten egg, and ¼ cup grated Parmesan, and bake at 350'F for 30 minutes.

Or try raw amaranth chopped and mixed with chopped onion, slightly beaten eggs, and a little salt, then fried as small pancakes in safflower oil.

This green also tastes great when it's cooked and then added to seasoned tomato sauce. If you like, you can mix the cooked greens in a blender with minced garlic, parsley, basil, oregano, tomato sauce, and some tomato paste, then use this mixture as one of the layers in a lasagna that also features broad whole wheat noodles and a blend of ricotta cheese, salt, pepper, and parsley.

Source: "Unusual Vegetables: Something New for This Year's Garden" by the editors of Organic Gardening and Farming

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