Mexican Ranchero Amaranth Stew
A flavorful one pot Mexican stew made with protein-packed amaranth. Vegan and gluten-free.
I’m not even going to pretend like I watched or cared about the Super Bowl yesterday. I guess neither of the teams nor their deflated balls grabbed my attention.
Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.
I did use it as an excuse to make Mexican food though. I’m not sure why I associate the two, football and Mexican food. Maybe because the flavors go well with beer?
It’s probably because I’m just all around obsessed with Mexican food. I can always count on there being some plant-based protein from beans and then avocados…they’re like my crack.
Out of respect for the person’s privacy I won’t mention any names, but one time a family member of ours claimed that avocados raise your cholesterol.
Because of my intense love for them, I felt so personally offended by that statement that it took all I had to contain myself. Thankfully it wasn’t an immediate family member so I decided not to argue and ended-up just nodding my head in agreement while resisting the urge to roll my eyes into the back of my head. But now every time I see an article or advertisement claiming that avocados lower your cholesterol (which they do, obviously), I have a nice little chuckle to myself.
Anyways, as much as I would to talk about avocados ‘till the cows come home, we’re going to move on a lesser known food.
Have you ever cooked with amaranth?
It’s actually similar to quinoa because it’s also a seed (or pseudocereal/false grain) that’s extremely high in protein, calcium, iron and magnesium. The flavor is slightly nutty with an aroma that’s similar to corn and it’s especially delicious when added to soups or stews, like this one that’s packed with spicy ranchero flavor.
Now I will admit that the texture is a little different from quinoa. Amaranth is much smaller and expands less when cooking so the end result can look a little strange.
Based on the fact that we eat with our eyes, I’m not expecting any of you to run to the store and buy amaranth today. Or tomorrow.
But for those of you that are brave and enjoy trying new healthy foods, this stew is a great place to start.
The ingredient list might seem complicated but it’s actually really easy to make. And it only uses one pot which always makes me a happy camper.
If amaranth looks too weird for you, you can use quinoa in it’s place. I’ve tried it and the result is almost exactly the same.
But we really liked it with the amaranth so I hope I can inspire a few of you to give it a chance. You never know until you try!
1 cup amaranth*
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, cored and diced
2 bell peppers, cored and diced
3 cups vegetable broth
1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed fire roasted tomatoes
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne (depending on how hot you like it)
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
juice of 1 lime
- Warm the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and jalapeno and cook for 5 minutes then add the bell pepper and the seasonings (cumin, chili powder and cayenne) and stir together.
- Pour in the vegetable broth and the tomatoes with their juices and then bring to a low boil. Allow to cook for 15 minutes so that it thickens slightly.
- Add the soaked and rinsed amaranth (or quinoa) and continue to cook for another 20 minutes.
- Next add the black beans, chopped cilantro and the juice of 1 lime and stir together. Cook until everything is heated throughout and then serve warm. Garnish with avocado and chopped cilantro and enjoy!
*I prefer to soak grains to reduce phytic acid. This enhances digestion and absorption of nutrition.For this recipe, place the amaranth in a medium-size bowl and cover with 3 inches of water. If you have vinegar on hand, add a tablespoon to the bowl as well. Soak overnight or for 6-8 hours and then rinse before adding to the recipe.
**I also recommend using a flavorful vegetable broth for the best results. My favorite is Better Than Boullion's vegetable base.