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Leek and Amaranth Polenta – swell

Leek and Amaranth Polenta

Bowl of Leek and Amaranth Polenta
Amaranth Polenta Ingredients
Leek and Amaranth Polenta with Mushrooms, Greens, and Toasted Walnuts
Chives, Roasted Mushroom, Walnut and Arugula Garnish
Leek and Amaranth Polenta Closeup

Welcome!  I hope you are as excited as I am about the new look and layout.  I have two very special people to thank for all of this: first, Elliot, who found me a good server and made the initial transfer of the old blog, and secondly, Peter, who found this blog template and made all the fancy computer and graphic design decisions to bring it to where it is now.  Hopefully everything is in order, and please give me feedback about it if you’d like.  But without further ado, a fresh new recipe for all of you…

Spring is beginning to find its way to Minnesota, with nearly all the snow melted and more than a couple days in the 50s, which everyone around here is happy to have.  I’ve even seen people in shorts and t-shirts, which seems a bit extreme to me, but I’m just happy to be able to be outside without a bajillion layers on and in regular old shoes instead of boots, and ecstatic to be riding my bike to work again.

A lot of the spring produce I think of hasn’t yet made its way to the co-op, though, and our farmer’s markets don’t open until April, so until asparagus and ramps and rhubarb are abundant I’m having to scale back slightly on my dreams for full-on vernal feasting and settle for adding more fresh herbs and greens to my meals, like I have here.  I had hoped, you see, to create a full-on spring spread with multiple courses for my first new post, but realized it was better to make one good dish than overwhelm myself with the pressure of something that intense (though I may revisit the idea in a month or so!).

Since giving up corn a few months back, I instantly lamented the loss of tortilla chips and cornbread, and over time I’ll occasionally stumble across something corn-based that I’d forgotten about a bit.  Like polenta.  Luckily I remembered reading about other grain-based polentas and happily pulled out my jar of amaranth from the cupboard.  Armed with leeks and mushrooms and fresh chives for a start, I set out on a mission to make something tasty and simple, which really is all I can realistically aspire to until the last of the winter blues get dusted off.

The leek-flavored amaranth is creamy, earthy and porridge-like, not like the firm polenta you buy in tubes at the store, and with balsamic-roasted mushrooms, toasted walnuts, and fresh greens, it’s hard to go wrong, isn’t it?  This makes a great weekend lunch or weeknight supper, the longest wait being for the amaranth to finish cooking.  Whip some up and dream about little shoots poking their way up through the dirt and leaf buds emerging on the tree limbs…I highly recommend it!

Leek and Amaranth Polenta
with Roasted Mushrooms, Walnuts, and Fresh Greens
(serves 4)

1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 teaspoon coriander
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium leek, white part only, halved lengthwise, rinsed, and thinly sliced
1 cup amaranth
3 cups vegetable stock
salt to taste

1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
fresh lemon zest
a handful of arugula or other fresh greens per serving
fresh chopped chives

Preheat the oven to 425F.  Toss the mushrooms with the olive oil, balsamic, garlic, and spices in a baking dish and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the juices have released and the mushrooms are beginning to brown (if the edges aren’t roasted to your liking you can pop them under the broiler for a few minutes, too).

Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in a medium saucepan and cook the leeks until translucent and beginning to brown.  Add the amaranth and vegetable stock and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally.  After 30 or so minutes, most of the liquid should be absorbed and the amaranth will be creamy and porridge like.  Stir, cooking, until desired thickness.

To serve, ladle some polenta into a wide, shallow bowl and top with a handful of greens, the roasted mushrooms, and the chopped walnuts.  Sprinkle with lemon zest and fresh chives and serve warm.

47 Responses to “Leek and Amaranth Polenta”

  1. Megan says:

    Oh YUMMMM! We’ve recently fallen in love with amaranth and have an abundance of leeks! This is perfect.

    LOVE the new site look!! <3

  2. jessy says:

    i love the new site, a-k. it’s most glorious! just wanted you to know too that i totally just ordered your cooking zine from the cosmo vegan shoppe just now when i was ordering some dr. cow cheezes. huzzah! i eagerly await its arrival! in the meantime, i might just have to give your leek ‘n amaranth polenta a go. the combination of those balsamic roasted mushies with the leeks ‘n walnuts sounds heavenly; i have a glass jar full of amaranth in our pantry that’s been begging to be used lately – your recipe is just perfect! happy almost-spring!

    • A-K says:

      Amaranth is my new favorite grain now! So delicious. Thanks for your compliments and for ordering my zine from Cosmo’s…they’re great! :)

  3. Catherine says:

    Congrats on the move, I love the new look!

  4. Mihl says:

    Your new blog looks spectacular! And so does the polenta. It sounds like the perfect way to prepare amaranth.

  5. Heather says:

    Hot new look and interesting recipe. Recently cooked amaranth for the first time, although using the absorption method and not as a porridge. My grains were a little crunchy and a little sticky and, truth be told, a little odd. Is crunchy-sticky their texture when cooked as a porridge or do they become soft and mushy? Assistance much appreciated.

    • A-K says:

      Thanks, Heather. I have heard mixed reviews about amaranth from various sources, and not having cooked a whole lot with it myself, I’d gather that using more water would probably help with the crunchy factor. It is by its nature a little bit sticky, however, which is why it works so well as a polenta. In this dish the amaranth still have a *little* bit of a bite to them, but I wouldn’t call it crunchy. Hope that helps!

  6. Love the new blog! My favorite the Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, section along the bottom. And I like the shortened name — Swell. And of course, I love that polenta post.

  7. Ricki says:

    Congrats on the new digs! I love the look of your new site. And that polenta sounds smashing–can’t wait till I have mushrooms again! I’ve switched the RSS feed for my Google Reader, too. :D

    • A-K says:

      Thanks Ricki! I’m sure, too, that your creative mind could come up with something to replace the mushrooms if you can’t wait until you can have them again :)

  8. Shellyfish says:

    Holy crap woman, this is fabulous! I am so impressed – very professional and clean. And that polenta is on my list! Lovely.

    • A-K says:

      Yes, at first I was afraid it was TOO professional for my own abilities, but I gave that idea up pretty quick ;-) It makes me happy, and I hope you try the polenta!

  9. Sam Ahern says:

    This looks such a wonderful alternative to corn based polenta! I’ll have to find some when I’m back in the US.

  10. Ana says:

    SuperHOT!!!!! Seriously, the layout looks fabulous and I love the way your pictures are highlighted and I love the sections at the bottom and…..alright already, I love the whole site!

    Congrats and definitely worth the wait.

  11. Kate says:

    Mmm… this looks fantastic! I can definitely see how amaranth would be a good substitute for corn meal. And congrats on the new blog layout – I’m loving the big photos and the new categories.

  12. Melly says:

    I love your new home! I have only ever had popped amaranth but this sounds delicious.

  13. Naomi Rose says:

    oh my GOD, this looks BEAUTIFUL. <3

  14. Karmalily says:

    I love the new site – it looks great! Also, that recipe looks so yummy and I can’t wait to try it out.

  15. Jes says:

    First off, what a beautiful redesign! I think I might use Graph Paper for my site redesign, if I can ever figure out what do with my domain issues. le sigh.

    And the amaranth risotto is beautiful too! I haven’t played much with the grain itself, but this recipe certainly makes me want to get to it.

    • A-K says:

      I was just reading about your domain issues…I hope you can figure something out! And anyway, people will come because you make beautiful food, not because of your name :) And yes, you should get on that amaranth, stat!

  16. I love your site–it is so beautiful and so YOU! The colors and design are perfect. Can’t wait to see you add more content.

  17. Kim says:

    OMG! THIS IS GORGEOUS! congrats on your new layout and look, i am having blog layout envy! wow! and this polenta looks divine. i love amaranth, this is a great reminder for me to do something with the little jar i have on my shelf. this recipe looks fab. again, congrats on the new layout, it is super fabulous!!!! xoxo Kim

  18. Christina says:

    This truly is a beautiful web site. Your photography is fabulous. I’m glad to have discovered your humble abode :) I look forward on visiting more often. All the best, and keep it up!

  19. Virginie P. says:

    I’m discovering your new blog. I love it, it is so beautiful and well organized.

  20. mary says:

    This is gorgeous! I love the colors, and the font, and the layout, and your photos… This site looks really, really classy.

    I bought some amaranth and didn’t know what to do with it. Mostly I see recipes for sweet breakfast porridge, but I like your thinking here!

  21. Courtney says:

    Congrats on the move–it looks great!

    Isn’t our weather amazing?! I love it! Can’t wait for the farmers market to open again… :-)


  22. Mandee says:

    I love your new website, A.K! Gorgeous colours and great layout!

    What a delicious meal! I’ve never thought of using amaranth like that and I probably should as corn came up as an intolerance for me but I ignored it because I’m already trying to exclude gluten & soy!

  23. Jim Pushard says:

    What a fun read. Thanks. You got bookmarked.

  24. Kiersten says:

    I wish I would have had this recipe about a year ago. I had a huge bag of amaranth in my cupboard for ages that I could never figure out what to do with. (I like the new site by the way)

  25. Paola says:

    *squeals!* Love the simplictic yet modern look of the new layout, good move! Keep the great recipes coming our way ;)
    Kind Regards

  26. Gena says:

    New blog design is gorgeous! And I love amaranth — great idea.

  27. Julie says:

    I love the way you redesigned your blog. It looks great ! This polenta sounds delicious. I should make a try tonight.

  28. Julia says:

    I’m a longtime reader of your blog who recently became apart of a non-profit project called the Flexitarian Cookbook, donating all of its profits to Slow Food USA and the Yoga Bear programs. I couldn’t find any contact information for you, but would like to talk to you more about donating some of your recipes. You can visit my blog to read more, or the site: theflexitariancookbook.com. I’m managing the vegan chapter, and love your unique food combinations. Let me know if you’re interested! Otherwise, I love your new site. Thank you!


  29. T says:

    Love the new layout, so professional! And what a recipe to kick it off with, yum!

  30. A polenta but using amaranth instead…oh I love it! I have some amaranth to use up.

  31. [...] amaranth, which acts like a nuttier, glossier, more buttery-tasting sort of polenta (I learned this here), and after that, things were a little [...]

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