Amaranth is a warm season crop that originated in South America. The Aztec, Inca, and Mayan cultures consumed amaranth as a staple grain. Every part of the amaranth plant is edible including the seeds, root, stalk and leaves. The plant comes in hues of golden yellow to a deep magenta. This versatile plant is as nutritious as it is tasty; amaranth is extremely high in protein and functions as a whole grain.
Amaranth should be washed. Cut off seed bundles, and set aside. Wash the stalk, leaves and root in cold water under a faucet or in a large bowl of water. The stalk, leaves and root are ready to use for cooking after washing in water.
Seeds have a thin protective husk called chaff that must be removed. When seed pods are dry, roll a large bunch around in your hands until the small black or tan seeds begin to separate themselves from the pod. You may also just harvest the seeds while leaving the plant in the garden. Place a wide bowl under the seed pods and shuffle the pods around with your fingers to release seeds.
Gather the seeds in a bowl. Remove the chaff by scooping handfuls of the seed and chaff mixture. Stand over a sink or outside, and lightly blow onto the seeds. The feather light chaff will blow away from your hand and leave only the black seeds. Wash separated seeds by rinsing in cold water.
Preparing Leaves and Stalk
Use a cloth or paper towels to dab dry the leaves. Cut into 1/2 pieces, and sauté leaves and stalk in a pan with olive oil or add to other braising greens such as dandelion, collards, and kale. Cook with oil, salt, pepper and garlic for five minutes.
Preparing the Root
Prepare the amaranth root like other root vegetables. Boil and mash the root with butter and cream as a potato alternative. Amaranth root is also tasty in a roasted root vegetable medley. Cut it into small 1-inch cubes and roast with potatoes, carrots, beets and turnips. Add rosemary, olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake for one hour at 350 degrees until they are soft and slightly caramelized.