Popped amaranth on salad

Last Wednesday I introduced “What Is She Eating” Wednesday, a fun new idea I had for sharing my adventures exploring tasty whole grain recipes via the WGC blog.  I included the photo at left and asked if you could guess what I was eating, then said I’d give you the answer today.  Don’t worry, I won’t always leave you hanging, but I kinda wanted to draw things out this time. 

So what was I eating?  Popped amaranth!  That’s right, those little flecks of white and tan on my lunch salad last Wednesday are popped, or puffed, grains of amaranth.  After all, amaranth is May’s Grain of the Month, and the perfect reason to try this tasty little grain in as many different ways as I possibly can!


Here’s another picture, without all the salad stuff to distract you.  Aren’t they cute?  They look like microscopic cotton pods, or really really small pieces of popcorn.  And truthfully, the size doesn’t change much when you pop amaranth; the grains just turn themselves inside out as the burst and become a little less symmetrical.

So how do you pop amaranth?  Oh it’s so simple, probably the easiest method of cooking whole grains I’ve ever tried.  There’s no oil or butter necessary, just you, a few tablespoons of amaranth grains, a wooden spoon for stirring, and a really hot pan.  In fact, there are only three rules when it comes to making perfectly popped amaranth:

Rule #1 – Make sure your pot is hot.  When you test the heat of your pot with a drop of water, it should sizzle away in no time at all.

Rule #2 – Only pop a few tablespoons at a time, and stir those grains constantly.  Really, don’t stop stirring for a second, even when your amaranth is leaping all over your stovetop, or everything will char about as fast as you can blink.  If you try to pop more than a few tablespoons at a time, it’s a bit of a challenge to keep the grains moving enough to keep from burning, so just be prepared to pop amaranth in small batches.  I popped a half-cup in maybe 5 minutes total, and the bulk of that time was spent waiting for the pot to reach the right temperature.

Rule #3 – I like to call this the Jaws rule, as in yes, you ARE going to need a bigger boat- er, pot.  My first amaranth popping experiment was conducted in a lovely old enamel-coated cast iron four-quart sauce pan.  By the end of the experiment, the stovetop, nearby counter, and parts of the floor were littered with amaranth that had escaped the confines of the sauce pan.  These grains may be tiny, but what they lack in size, they more than make up for with enthusiasm!  They didn’t leap as much as cavort right out of the sauce pan, occasionally right at my face.  Needless to say it was startling, but quite amusing. You can see it all in my How to Pop Amaranth video here.

So there you have it folks.  Popped amaranth – try some today!  (Kara)

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