Guest Blog: Amazing Amaranth, Naturally Gluten-Free
As May draws to a close, we end our month-long salute to Amaranth with today's delectable Guest Blog by Suzanne Bowland, founder and executive producer of GF Culinary Productions, Inc.
Thanks to the gluten-free food movement, Amaranth is being rediscovered and celebrated for its strong nutritional profile and versatility in cooking and baking. Unlike other popular gluten-free grains such as quinoa and rice, amaranth does not fluff up when cooked. Rather, you'll find that after cooking amaranth, the size of the seeds remains tiny and they become soft and tender, yet maintain a bit of a crunch. Even more unique than its consistency is its appearance - amaranth glistens, almost translucent, and visually presents itself with a shimmer interestingly reminiscent of caviar.
As for taste, you have a delightful treat in store! Its flavor is a bit nutty and although adding strong flavor profiles to amaranth recipes is common among chefs using the grain, the grain tastes quite pleasant all by itself. One of the easiest ways to enjoy cooked amaranth is by simply adding honey, butter, and milk to taste and presto! You have a delightful morning porridge which has a taste and texture similar to the well-known and loved Malt-O-Meal, which is not gluten-free. I stumbled upon this flavor combination by experimenting in my kitchen and I was delighted at the discovery. Malt-O-Meal was one of my favorite childhood cereals, long before I started living gluten-free ten years ago; now I can recapture this favorite taste, thanks to amaranth.
Amaranth's cooking versatility lends itself well to a wide array of savory and sweet options, ranging from pilafs and porridges to casseroles and snacks. True, finding recipes that feature amaranth can be a bit challenging as it still remains a less widely known gluten-free whole grain. Thankfully, the Whole Grains Council has put together a great collection of amaranth recipes that allow this tasty little grain to shine. Amaranth is also made into flour which is a delightful high-protein option to incorporate into gluten-free flour blends for baking applications.
When boiling amaranth for savory dishes, consider using a broth such as chicken or vegetable in place of water, infusing a little extra flavor to the finished grain. In only 20 to 30 minutes, amaranth will be ready to serve, surprising and delighting the palate. Between its nutritional benefits and its culinary potential, amaranth is sure to become a regular pantry staple in your home if it isn't one already!
Suzanne Bowland is founder and executive producer of GF Culinary Productions, Inc. Bowland is the creator of the nationally renowned Gluten-Free Culinary Summit and other pioneering gluten-free culinary and baking education events for the public and trade.