feast magazine article, mains, salads, sides

feast magazine, march 2015: rainbow noodle bowl with amaranth leaves and spicy peanut dressing.

rainbow noodle salad with amaranth leaves and spicy peanut dressing.

No pig parts this month! In Feast Magazine’s March 2015 edition, I’m highlighting an ingredient which is both massively underused and phenomenally good for you: amaranth leaves. I celebrate them (because you should celebrate them) by throwing them into this Rainbow Noodle Bowl with Spicy Peanut Dressing. 

So, amaranth…sound familiar? We all know the grain by now, and you see it everywhere, happily parked next to the quinoa and farro and all the other oh-so-trendy grains, but what about the plant they came from? It deserves a little love…frankly, it deserves a LOT of love. And i’m not quite sure why it’s not getting it: amaranth leaves are a treasure trove of vitamins and minerals…total powerhouse greens. Their flavor is as smooth as spinach: mild, with a subtle earthiness, way more tame than kale or collards. Plus, they’re hearty and basically grow all year round. So what gives? Why no amaranth leaf love?

rainbow noodle salad with amaranth leaves and spicy peanut dressing.

I’d like to change that: I’ve noticed (and I could be very wrong about this) that after my articles are published, things pop up in stores a little more than they used to. Prickly pears, for instance: I used to see a handful every now and again at my normal grocery, but since I talked about them? Big piles of them, almost all the time. I saw pomegranate molasses make an appearance, halloumi cheese became easier to find, and rambutan is around a lot more…just saying. I don’t know if that’s me making things up, but grocery stores, if you are listening:

  • Place them next to the spinach.
  • Maybe do some signage talking about the similarities to spinach so people know what to do with it. Because it does act just like spinach, both in raw and cooked formats.

Just a suggestion, but they’re so pretty I feel like they’d sell themselves. And a big thanks to Global Foods Market, who keeps a steady supply of amaranth leaves all year long; I wouldn’t even know about them were it not for their produce section.

rainbow noodle salad with amaranth leaves and spicy peanut dressing.

Read more about them in my article over at Feast, or grab a magazine if you’re local; I guarantee you’ll be into them, and I hope you like what I made with them. It’s a spicy cold noodle salad with a rainbow of vegetables and a little Asian flair, kinda perfect for lunches right now when it’s almost springtime but still cold enough to want something hearty.

So I’m reading through this month’s magazine as I type this, and I keep getting distracted by what’s inside; I’ll take you through some of the things that have caught my eye:

Matt Seiter highlights two classic cocktails – the Rickey and the Collins – and gives some on-point ways to give them a little seasonal panache. Bookmarked for (lots of) future use.

Dear Kansas City: The Sundry sounds like a place I’d like to spend most of my days at.

PORCHETTA-STYLE ROAST PORK RECIPE. I doubt I need to say more than that.

These Oatmeal Stout Cakes from Christy Augustin will get you through your St. Patrick’s Day festivities in style; somehow she incorporates dulce de leche in here and I now worship her. seriously.

Chefs on the Brink is a must-read for inspiration (I dare you to check out each of the chefs’ signature dishes and NOT feel all the ideas coming) and for just knowing where you should plan your next dinner. If nothing else, it reminds me I need to get out more.

And finally, this article about the evolution (and recent comeback) of the neighborhood butcher shop makes me realize i’ve never fully appreciated butchers or what they do. They’re artists, honestly, and they do something I could not. It’s an interesting look at the recent history of the butcher shop, our steps away from it in recent years, and how it’s coming back as we become more engaged in the process of cooking and eating. Beautifully (and quite moodily) photographed by Jonathan Gayman and Zach Bauman.

That’s what’s up for March! Go read the digital copy or grab one if you live in the area. And if you’re into being healthy, check out my article on amaranth leaves and then start lobbying your local grocers so they begin carrying them. Let’s make amaranth leaves more of a thing.

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  • Reply Deb|EastofEdenCooking March 3, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    I not sure if I’ve ever been introduced to amaranth leaves before! I’m intrigued now and will seek them out and give them a try. A new and different green will be a nice change in our vegetable routine.

    • Reply shannon March 4, 2015 at 9:22 am

      Definitely look for these sweet leaves, Deb! They’re wonderful, and visually a total stunner; i’ve added them in to my grocery rotation and it’s been great.

  • Reply Monica March 3, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    Haven’t yet had the pleasure of trying amaranth and though I’ve certainly heard of it, I had never heard of the leaves! Great to learn something new. The taste and texture sounds very good…and besides, I was sold with the spicy peanut dressing to begin with. Looks fabulous!

    • Reply shannon March 4, 2015 at 9:19 am

      Amaranth seems to be a fun thing, right? you have the grain, you have the leaves…it’s like a whole healthy thing going on. 🙂 And that spicy peanut dressing is legit, with or without the amaranth leaves. 🙂 a good one to throw even on plain noodles.

  • Reply elizabeth March 3, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    I’d love to know at least some of your secrets in getting your hands on these goodies because they are usually so unexpected but sound really, really tasty. It’s difficult enough to find the grain here, much less the leaf of the amaranth, but perhaps with a new natural foods store coming in around the corner from our place, I might be able to find it, at least eventually…

    But thank you, as always, for putting these things on our collective radars!

    • Reply shannon March 4, 2015 at 9:17 am

      Elizabeth, i’m a wanderer: that’s the only secret i have, combined with the benefit of having some amazing international markets in the area. I don’t know why this is, or if saint louis is just that much of a hotbed of both food and diverse cultures staying true to their respective food traditions, but we really have almost anything at the ready. So i wander around these places, and i make notes – like actually geek out with a notebook and a pen and people look at me weird – and i do it on a monthly basis so i know what the rotation is and what shows up when (in terms of fresh produce). then i start wandering the aisles, make more notes, and so on. it’s amazing what you’ll find when you do that.
      As for amaranth, i’d try finding a well-stocked Asian grocery: the leaves are used most often in asian cuisine, generally for stir fries and the like. Natural food stores are a great resource too for this, and some of the other things i’ve covered – burdock root, for instance, does something healthy for your body (which is obviously escaping me right now) also, so it’s found not only in asian groceries but also in health food stores. I’ll start adding more detail in these posts over here about where to find them – i don’t always go into it for the actual article, but definitely it’s worth doing so others can find things like this.

  • Reply John@Kitchen Riffs March 3, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    I almost never see amaranth leaves, so I have zero experience cooking with them. Zero — depressing, isn’t it? But maybe I’ve overlooked them. And things to seem to be changing. My local Schnuck’s had a big batch of dandelion greens the other day. I was shocked! I hadn’t seen them there before. So let’s hope amaranth leaves will be next to make an appearance. 😉

    • Reply shannon March 4, 2015 at 9:11 am

      I’ve only seen them at Global, John, although i’m wondering if maybe they occasionally have them at places like Whole Foods and i just haven’t noticed. I’m surprised at your finding dandelion greens at Schnuck’s! Although some of the larger / well stocked Dierbergs carry them occasionally too (although it’s rare). Tell me if you see amaranth pop up there in the future; i’m so curious as to how they choose what they carry, i should ask produce managers (but i get really shy, and then it doesn’t happen, etc. ) 🙂

  • Reply Abbe @ This is How I Cook March 3, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    I believe I’ve seen amaranth at the Asian market, but I’m not sure. Will Manservant like it better than kale?

    • Reply shannon March 4, 2015 at 9:09 am

      Definitely: it’s not bitter at all, very tender, and easier to work with (in my opinion) than kale, and packed with nutrition. If Manservant is open to spinach, give amaranth leaves a try. i like their subtle flavor, both in raw and cooked forms.

  • Reply mellissa @ ibreatheimhungry March 4, 2015 at 7:39 am

    I’ve seen amaranth leaves at the Asian market too but have never tried them before – now I have a great reason to pick some up! This recipe sounds amazing, and if my local grocery store suddenly starts carrying amaranth leaves next to the spinach I’ll know that I have you to thank!!! Could you raise awareness of lamb’s quarter next? They are ridiculously healthy too – not to mention tasty and you are probably growing some in your own yard every year and tossing them into the compost pile as weeds! I learned about them when I tried raw eating years ago – I use them in my smoothies when I can find them which is almost never except at Asian and Latin markets!

    • Reply shannon March 4, 2015 at 9:07 am

      oh do! they’re like leaf powerhouses, evidently, and chock full of good things. they’re great cooked, but just like spinach, they’re tender enough to be eaten raw, and there’s a really nice delicate flavor to them that adds something to whatever you throw them into. Not to mention they’re gorgeous: all greens and indigoes and lovely.
      I’ve heard of lambs’ quarter! you know, i never see it anywhere though, but i’ll keep looking: the international market where i go (as well as some farmers’ markets around town) tend to have a really great selection of greens (like the kind most consider to be weeds). i’ll definitely be on the lookout, because i’d love to try them.

  • Reply natalie @ wee eats March 4, 2015 at 9:38 am

    I have never seen amaranth leaves in the store, but i will definitely keep an eye out for them now. I want to eat all the rainbow (in non-ice-cream form!) with these! It’s such a hearty, filling, veggie-heavy meal. I need it NOW.

    I also need to find pom molasses because I honestly haven’t really seen it out here… but maybe i just haven’t been looking for it.

    • Reply shannon March 4, 2015 at 10:36 am

      Try Whole Foods (maybe) or any asian markets around you…they SHOULD carry amaranth leaves? Or health food stores: Elizabeth’s comment reminded me that lots of this stuff i showcase – at least the produce – can be found at health food or natural food stores, so if you have things like that, they may be a good place to start. You especially would like them: they’re good in green juices, also.

      Pom molasses is on a lower shelf at Whole Foods: try the “ethnic foods” aisle or possibly the aisle with the honey? I can’t remember but they always have it at ours…or make it! I usually do; store-bought is great but tends to lose the jewel tone color that pomegranates have, and if you make it at home (16 oz pom juice, 1 lemon’s worth of juice, and 1/2 cup sugar, stir, bring to boil, reduce heat and let simmer) you can simmer it down without losing that color. Plus you can have it anytime you want.

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