Amaranth, Roasted Squash, and Lima Beans
Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser
Prep Time: 30 minutes Cook Time: 40 minutes
This is a dish of foods native to the Americas. Amaranth, a wonderfully nutritious grain, has been eaten since the days of the Aztec civilization, and makes a flavorful, nutty accompaniment to lima beans—native to the Andes—and roasted squash—one of the fabled Three Sisters of the Pre-Columbian North American diet. Serve this dish on its own or with simple baked cod, turkey cutlets, or grilled chicken. It’s also nice with something ginger-flavored, such as The Weiser Kitchen’s Maple Ginger Fry Bread.
1/4 cup canola or corn oil, divided
1 medium butternut squash (about 2½ pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch dice (see Kitchen Tip)
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, Grade B preferred
½ large sweet onion, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
4 leeks, white part only, washed well and cut into ½-inch rounds (see Kitchen Tips)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups amaranth
4 cups Roasted Vegetable Stock or store-bought low-sodium vegetable stock
8 juniper berries, toasted and ground (see Kitchen Tip)
1 tablespoon gumbo filé powder
1 pound frozen lima beans (about 2 cups)
- Preheat the oven to 385°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Toss 2 tablespoons of the oil, the squash, maple syrup, onion, leeks, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper in a bowl and then spread evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, mix gently, and continue baking for 15 to 20 minutes longer, or until the vegetables are soft and cooked through and the squash and onions have distinctly brown edges.
- While the vegetable are cooking, make the grains: Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a saucepan set over over high heat until it shimmers. Add the amaranth and cook, stirring, for 45 seconds to 1 minute, until coated with the oil and lightly toasted. Add the stock, the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, the ground juniper berries, and gumbo file powder and mix well. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 25 minutes.
- When the amaranth is cooked, strain any liquid through a fine-mesh sieve if necessary (the grain should remain al dente). Add the lima beans and stir well. Cover and set aside.
- When the vegetables are done, scrape them and all their accumulated juices into a mixing bowl. Add the cooked amaranth and lima beans and stir gently to combine. Serve immediately (see Kitchen Tips). This will keep, refrigerated, in a covered container, for up to 2 days.
- You can use pre-cut fresh or frozen, defrosted butternut squash if you wish.
- If you haven’t cooked with leeks before, you need to know a few things: they’re delicious, but they absorb an amazing amount of soil as they grow, so you’ll need to wash them extremely well. First, trim off the tough outer leaves. Then, place the leek on a work surface, hold it by the root end and, with a sharp knife, slice lengthwise, starting about an inch from the root and working your way down the leaves (keeping the root end intact for the moment). Roll the leek over about half a turn and slice again, so that the once tightly wound leaves hang in big strands from the root end. Wash well under running water, making sure to get in between each strand. When you are satisfied that all the dirt is removed, you can cut off the root end, trim any remaining tough green leaves and soak, slice, or chop as the recipe requires.
- To toast the juniper berries, place them into a frying pan or cast-iron skillet and set over medium heat. Toast for 45 seconds to 1 minute, until fragrant. Watch carefully so they do not burn. Grind in a spice grinder or mini chopper or with a mortar and pestle.
- Serve with The Weiser Kitchen’s Maple Ginger Fry Bread, if desired.