Risotto with Amaranth Greens, Raisins, and Pine Nuts

Amaranth is a really interesting plant. It is native to the Americas and was a staple of the Aztecs. When the Spanish came to conquer they wouldn’t let people eat their pagan grain. They did the same thing to the Incas with quinoa. So many atrocities were committed against the people here but not letting them eat the food that grows all around them in favor of the more godly plants seems particularly sadistic. Especially when you consider that amaranth grain, like quinoa, has large amounts of protein and essential amino acids and can grow easily in all sorts of difficult environments. You can also eat the mild leaves which are similar to spinach. It was a vital plant to the region that kept people from starving. They had to grow it in secret.  The Aztecs celebrated Amaranth on the feast of Huauquiltamalcualitztli which I think we should revive as soon as possible. I am always excited for a new celebratory feast.

I got the greens when I worked in at the farm over the weekend. I really wanted to make something Jamaican since that is where this particular strain came from but I couldn’t find half the stuff that I needed to make Callaloo and so I started thumbing through World Vegetarian and I found this risotto recipe that used spinach and sounded very easy.

I am so glad I tried it! We both really liked it and the recipe was very simple and used ingredients that I normally have on hand. The last step was to add Parmesan cheese and butter which I switched to nutritional yeast and earth balance. I was a little worried it would have that noochy taste which wasn’t what I was looking for but it actually came out perfect. It made the risotto really creamy and rich tasting so if you try the recipe be sure to add it in at the end. The raisins got so big while cooking in this dish and I thought they really added a lot of flavor and I upped the cinnamon a little bit too from the original and I thought that was better as well but you might want to start with 1/4 teaspoon. The key to risotto is never stop stirring so make sure you have something to read or entertain you or it can get ruined.

Simmer
4 cups stock
separately Fry in Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Pine Nuts
Remove when golden and add
2 large shallots, chopped fine
Once golden add
1 Tablespoon raisins
after 1 minute add
10oz Amaranth, cut into ribbons or other mild green (like Spinach or Chard)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
after a couple minutes add
1 Cup Arborio Rice
fry for another minute and then add a ladle full  of stock. Stir until the liquid is mostly gone and then add another ladle full. Keep repeating this process until the rice is cooked, the stock is gone, and the liquid has been soaked into the rice.

Add
1/4 cup Nooch
1 Tablespoon Earth Balance

Season with salt and Enjoy!

8 thoughts on “Risotto with Amaranth Greens, Raisins, and Pine Nuts

  1. synnagain

    I raised amaranth a few years back as a flower and it was beautiful. Had no idea it was edible at the time. It seems it had a couple of fanciful names: love lies bleeding and kiss me over the garden gate.

  2. mihl

    I wish I could try amaranth greens! I don’t think it is available here.
    I live Madhur Jaffrey’s book, there are so many amazing recipes in it. Your version of that risotto looks delish.

  3. Jes

    The risotto looks awesome! Amaranth is such an interesting plant–I never knew that the leaves were edible, I’ve only eaten it as a grain!

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