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slides: Amaranth: Make a Glorious Summer Garden Salad

Saturday, July 04, 2015

 

Amaranth salad © linda dalal sawaya 2015

If you wander through my organic garden while I'm watering in the morning, you may wonder what the red-tinged green plant is that's sprouting up almost everywhere. A friend gave me seeds about 15 years ago of an exotic looking plant—the photo on the seed packet showing large, dramatic, magenta flowers. As I love to experiment in the kitchen and garden, I planted the seeds and this amazing plant appeared, growing taller and taller forming flamboyant, deep magenta blossoms that ignite the garden into festivity. It continues to reseed itself in my garden every year because I simply adore the blossoms that hold within its precious seeds that birds love snacking on through the fall. 

It is amaranth, an ancient plant native to South America and now cultivated in many parts of the world with many available varieties. Its high protein seeds provide excellent nutrition as do the young plant's leaves. The seeds are eaten cooked like a grain or even popped like popcorn!

See Slideshow Below: Making a Glorious Summer Garden Salad with Amaranth

The red-purple greens are highly nourishing and make a unique addition to salads and sautés. If you happen to be growing this abundantly reproductive plant, that grows like a weed (eat your weeds!) it is easy to pull out or snip for lunch; where it is pinched, it will branch out, providing more leaves and eventually more blossoms. I have seen the greens in farmers' markets, if you're curious and are not growing them yourself you may find them there. My seed packet came from Seeds of Change, and the variety in my garden looks like theirs named "elephant head".

Today's salad is a mixture of kale, young chard, and amaranth chiffonade sprinkled with scarlet runner bean flowers—for color and tasting just like the beans they would become, sautéed pine nuts and sesame seeds—for crunchy nutty flavor and more protein, and at the last minute an addition of a few sugar snap peas that have survived the heat—for a bit of sweetness.

A classic Lebanese salad dressing of garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt perfectly tenderizes all of the greens while marinating in the refrigerator before serving. On this very warm, early July day, it is served for lunch or dinner with sheep milk feta cheese on sesame flax seed crackers! Light and refreshing! Enjoy!

Linda Dalal Sawaya is a Portland artist, cook, Master Gardener, and author of Alice's Kitchen: Traditional Lebanese Cooking

Remember, as my mother Alice said, "If you make it with love, it will be delicious!"

© linda dalal sawaya 2015

 

Related Slideshow: Making a Glorious Summer Garden Salad with Amaranth

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Volunteer amaranth getting sprinkled 

© linda dalal sawaya 2015
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Morning amaranth leaves harvest 

© linda dalal sawaya 2015
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Amaranth seeds 

© linda dalal sawaya 2015
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Amaranth bouquet with Alice's Kitchen at Portland Lamb Jam 

© linda dalal sawaya 2015
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Amaranth with scarlet runner bean flowers 

© linda dalal sawaya 2015
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Pine nut and sesame seed sauté 

© linda dalal sawaya 2015
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Amaranth salad ready to toss 

© linda dalal sawaya 2015
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Amaranth salad 

© linda dalal sawaya 2015
 
 

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