Saturday, April 21, 2012

Amaranth Polenta (kicking up the nutrition!)

Polenta is a wonderful whole-grain base for many meals, pairing well with all kinds of sauces, greens, fish and meat. This recipe uses mostly amaranth, an ancient grain cultivated for over 8,000 years! It is a high-protein, non-gluten whole grain, high in fiber and very rich in vitamins and minerals including calcium, manganese, iron and vitamin B6. (See all of amaranth's nutritional power here.) It's nutty flavors mixes well with other grains - as in this polenta recipe - and is great for thickening soups.

This recipe makes a thick polenta-like grain base which you can use for all sorts of meals. I like it both sweet (for breakfast with nuts and fruit) and savory (with a succotash stew or tomato mushroom sauce). Plus, I find it's easier and faster than traditional polenta.

This is a picture of a giant batch I whipped up for one of the first yoga retreats I cooked for, alongside a summer veggie (sort of) succotash stew. In olive oil, I sauteed onions, summer squash, zucchini, peppers, fennel, and tomatoes until they cooked down into a hearty stew. At the end I threw in some frozen baby lima beans and freshly cut yellow corn for some added protein, sweetness and crunch! SO fantastic.

Amaranth Polenta

1 cup amaranth
½ cup polenta
5 cups water
  • Rinse grains under cool water in a fine-meshed sieve. Soak amaranth for 8-24 hours if desired, then drain off soaking water before proceeding.
  • Bring water and grains to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer.
  • Add salt, cover and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so to prevent it from sticking. Serves 4-5.

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