For me, amaranth is the king of greens to pick in the mid to late summer. Amaranth is a great-tasting, delicious wild green you should get to know, with culinary traditions around the world, especially in India where it's used to make saag and other things, and, in Jamaica and the Carribbean, where it's known as callaloo.
Turn your yard into a grocery store
Multiple Harvests from one plant
If you have amaranth in your garden or field, you can get multiple harvests from cutting it down, just like lamb's quarter. It almost seems like the more I cut them, the more they grow. I try to do everything I can to prevent the plants from going to seed each year, so I can get as many meals out of it as possible.
The picture below shows two things:
- What I describe as a "clouche" or the young growing tips of a plant, the best part to eat.
- The dried upper portion of the stalk where I harvested from the plant the first time. Cutting the tops off will force the plant to grow from it's smaller shoots on the side of the stalk, yielding new growth, and new meals.
Treat amaranth like any other green you would cook like nettles or spinach. My favorite part is the big, tender stems, which make it more like a vegetable than a green.
After picking, refresh the greens and stalks in a sink of cold water for 15 minutes, longer if they've wilted and sat in the sun. When the plants are refreshed and perky, drain them thoroughly with a spin mixer or by rolling up in a beech towel until dry, then refrigerate. I like to store my amaranth in a paper grocery bag with a damp cloth on top, but if I'm pressed for space or need quick meals, I'll blanch it in salted water, ball it up, squeeze the liquid out and refrigerate the balls of greens, just like they do in Italy.
Amranth's Five edible parts
Farmer's Market Amaranth
The 5th edible part: Amaranth Seeds
Callaloo: the classic Jamaican/Carribbean dish made with amaranth, peppers and onions scented with thyme and allspice
Saag paneer is a fantastic curry that traditionally uses amaranth along with a type of ricotta cheese.
Dotty's wild green salad (for young tips of burgundy amaranth)