Thank you for signing up!
Did you know that nearly 75 percent of the average American’s grain consumption is wheat? And that the vast majority of this is consumed as refined flour? In fact, we only consume, on average, a pitiful 10 percent of grains in the form of whole grains. Ten percent! And of this minute portion, wheat, rice and oats take top billing.
Luckily, this recipe helps us discover one of Mother Nature’s most delightful, yet most overlooked varieties of whole grain on Earth: amaranth. Amaranth was cultivated by the Incas and Aztecs and was considered one of their staple foods along with maize and beans. Like quinoa and millet, amaranth is considered a pseudograin/pseudocereal, as these foods derive from broad-leaf plants instead of grasses (e.g. corn, wheat). However, their seeds are used in much the same way.
So why choose amaranth over a more-familiar grain? Because this underdog of a plant boasts some fantastic qualities: It’s easy to cook, gluten-free, and relatively inexpensive.
There are several pieces to this unique and oh-so-yummy recipe.
The first has to do with the use of bitter greens. Bitter greens, such as radicchio, arugula, mizuna, escarole, endive and watercress, bring a pungent yet wonderfully unique flavor to the palate. Their bitter notes, similar to what you get from citrus zest and coffee, are also tinged with a fresh coolness, and do wonders for your digestive health. In many cultures, bitter greens are used to stimulate and tone the digestive system and in Ayurvedic medicine, bitter tastes aid in weight loss and help control food cravings — particularly the craving for sweet. When paired with natural sugars, such as what you get with ripe, luscious oranges, bitter greens will make your mouth sing!
Seasonality is another key to the dish. Winter signifies the orange harvest, especially in Northern California, where I currently reside. In this recipe I used small clementines, but feel free to experiment with Cara Cara oranges, blood oranges or any local orange that you can get your hands on. The more local and sustainable, the tastier the fruit!
But the real “pop” to this recipe is the dressing! The rich and deep sweetness of the balsamic paired with fresh-squeezed orange juice coats the greens and vegetables with just the right amount of bitter, sweet and salty. Then, combined with a hint of spicy Tabasco, myriad tastes come alive!
With the addition of pasture-raised, organic eggs, this dish packs in one of Mother Nature’s most complete proteins. Just remember to accompany a poached egg with some whole-grain toast to soak up all that yolk. Enjoy!