Thursday, July 2, 2009

4 Grain Pilaf (aka at last, something besides amaranth "grits"!)

A while back, I bought some amaranth because it's a good source of vegetarian protein. Little did I know that the primary recipe available on the Internet is for amaranth grits. There are a few that call for puffed amaranth, which is fine if you buy it that way but time consuming to do.

Amaranth will pop like popcorn, if you hydrate it first and then put it in a dry skillet. And like popcorn, it goes everywhere, only the "kernels" are very tiny. However, it's got a nice flavor and is great for surprising popcorn lovers.

Needless to say, my unpopped amaranth has been living in my refrigerator for a while. I try to keep my whole grains cool if I'm not going to be using them up pretty quickly. It keeps them from becoming rancid. But the other day I was in the mood for a pilaf. My two usual pilafs are made from bulgar wheat or quinoa. They're wonderful. Those recipes supported this one, which was partially gleaned from an idea on the web. The great thing about this recipe is that it's pretty flexible. If you don't have enough of one grain, add some extra of one of the others. It saves well and is good cold--I've been taking the leftovers to work for lunch.

Use veggie broth for a richer flavor, if you've got it on hand. If you like, add some dried fruit to your pilaf. I added about 1/4 cup of dried cranberries to mine because that was what I had open. It makes for a nice sweet bite.

4 Grain Pilaf

1 teaspoon olive oil
¼ medium onion, chopped
½ jalapeno, chopped (optional)
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1/3 cup amaranth
1/3 cup bulgur wheat
1/3 cup quinoa (rinsed and drained)
3 1/2 cups veggie broth or water
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
½ cup frozen green peas
1/3 cup couscous
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon garam masala
Dried fruit (optional)
Sea Salt and pepper to taste

Combine the olive oil, onion, pepper and all the seeds in a large, non-stick frying pan. Stir 1 to 2 minutes over high heat, until the seeds begin to pop and become aromatic. Add the amaranth, bulgur and quinoa and toast slightly. Add the broth and bring to a rapid boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until grains are tender, for about 20 minutes. Add the finely chopped vegetables. Add the couscous and stir to combine. Stir in the lemon juice and garam masala. Continue to simmer, covered, another 5 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed and the grains are tender. Add the dried fruit, if using. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


  1. Hi there!
    Good idea, this. Always wondered what to do with the stuff. My birds love it, now time for me to try it.

  2. Let me know how you like it.