A few weeks ago, I found these gorgeous Amaranth greens at the Farmers Market.
Amaranth greens grow year round, but these, and their colors, fully resonated with the arrival of Spring. They are typically eaten young and blanching them can help reducing their slightly bitter flavor. They are actually very nutritious, being rich in vitamins A, C and folate, as well as minerals. To me, they offer a great alternative to spinach, which I love, but is so consumed these days. So I grabbed a large bunch, knowing it would be perfect for a Meatless Monday meal.
This being said, it is not a green I have huge experience with, and I searched the blogosphere for some inspiration on how to best used them. I found Martha Rose Shulman's use of them with black beans quite enticing, as it looked easy to make on a work day, and as I immediately envisioned it as a filling for a "green sloppy joe". While making this recipe, I used young garlic which I had on hand. And instead of using actual buns, I used roasted portobello mushrooms which I had also found at that Farmers Market run. I used a method posted on LiveStrong's for roasting the mushrooms: oven heated at 450degF, mushrooms brushed with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and roasted for 10-12 minutes. For those reading from afar and perhaps unfamiliar with a sloppy joe is made: my green sloppy joe was simply assembled by putting one roasted mushroom on a plate, layering a good cup of the amaranth filling, and adding a second mushroom on top, sprinkled with some sesame seeds.
To accompany this dish, I decided to get some inspiration from my New GreenMarket Cookbook, which offers great seasonal market fresh recipes from NYC chefs. This year, we've been fortunate to have wonderfully sweet and crunchy snap peas, which were perfect to eat on their own. So I took inspiration from the sugar snap pea and whipped ricotta tartines. I replaced the whipped ricotta with a small block of firm tofu found at the market, whipped with olive oil, a little vinegar (lemon works too), chives, fresh mint, about 1/4c soaked raw cashew nuts, and salt and pepper.
This made a more-ish vegan "herbed cream cheese" which I spread on homemade multi-grain and seeded crackers (more on this another time :)). To finish, I simply layered chopped snap peas and radishes on the "cream cheese", omitting the dressing called for in the original recipe. While I did not have any sweet pea shoots on hand that day, I could have dressed the peas and radishes as per the recipe, but I like the freshness of radishes and snap peas without it.
I loved this plate. The "Green Sloppy Joe" was delicious, and felt quite light. And the herb cream cheese was not only great with the crackers, it was a nice accompaniment to the Joe too. So, amaranth is now definitely on the list of things to buy more often. :)
By the way:
- This plate is gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, so it will satisfy quite a number of eaters :).