For the longest time, I was buying my fruits and vegetables at the supermarket, without realizing that I was passing on the opportunity to discover beautiful, unusual vegetables and fruits that happened to be too unconventional or obscure to make the cut and be sold in traditional supermarkets. My world completely opened up when I started visiting farmers’ markets and smaller grocery stores. Still to this day, I constantly discover new fruits and veggies and never cease to be amazed by the wonderful variety of foods we are lucky to have access to.
Kumquats are of those fruits that I’d never see in traditional supermarkets. It’s only recently that I discovered what they were. Kumquats are part of the citrus family. They basically look like mini oranges, except their skin is actually edible. They are perfect for caramelization because of their sweet and slightly bitter taste. They are delicious as is, candied, in jams or as a topping for desserts.
We’ve had a big snow storm this week in Toronto so I thought it was the perfect occasion to squeeze in one more cozy porridge recipe on the blog before Spring arrives and the weather gets warmer. Wild blueberries lend this porridge its beautiful purple-blue color and amaranth gives it its velvety creaminess.
AMARANTH, TINY SUPER SEED
If you don’t know amaranth, let me tell you a bit about it. Although it is often classified as a grain (it was acclaimed as the “miracle grain” of the Aztecs), amaranth is actually a seed. A very tiny seed. It looks a lot like white quinoa or millet, except it’s even smaller. Amaranth is not only gluten-free, it’s also nutritionally very interesting. It is a very good source of protein – it contains good amounts of the essential amino acids lysine and methionine, both of which are not frequently found in grains. The protein contained in amaranth is very well absorbed by the body too. Just a cup of amaranth provides 60% of an adult’s daily requirement of protein!
Amaranth has been shown to have cholesterol-lowering properties. It is a great source of a variety of vitamins and minerals including iron, magnesium and calcium. In fact, amaranth contains twice as much calcium as milk. It’s tiny, but it’s a true nutritional powerhouse!
You can use amaranth the same way you would use quinoa or couscous, or you can add it to soups and stews. Add it to your desserts or energy bars or use it to make a creamy porridge like this one. Amaranth can be found in most health food stores and bulk stores.
Notes: It is best to soak amaranth prior to cooking. The soaking process not only reduces cooking time, but it also releases the phytic acid content of the grain for optimized digestibility and nutritional value. Since you will be consuming the skin of the kumquats, I recommend that you buy them organic if possible to avoid consuming residual pesticides.
Blueberry Amaranth Porridge + Caramelized Ginger Kumquats
- 2/3 cup amaranth soaked overnight or for at least 8 hours
- 1 2/3 cups unsweetened almond milk or any other plant-based milk
- 1/2 cup frozen blueberries or fresh if in season
- 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- 1 tbsp pure maple syrup or to taste
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Pinch sea salt
Caramelized ginger kumquats:
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 tbsp coconut sugar
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
- 1 cup sliced kumquats pits removed (about 8 kumquats)
- Fresh blueberries
- Chopped pistachios
Start by making the caramelized ginger kumquats:
Melt coconut oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add coconut sugar, lemon juice and grated ginger and stir to combine. Add sliced kumquats and bring to a simmer.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the cumquats start to brown. You should obtain a thick syrup-like consistency. If the mixture is too dry, add a little bit of water. Remove from heat and let cool.
Start by soaking the amaranth overnight, or for at least 8 hours. Once soaked, place into a fine-mesh strainer (make sure it's very fine, otherwise the grains are so tiny that they will will slip through) and rinse thoroughly under running water. Drain.
Place almond milk into a blender with the blueberries and vanilla extract. Blend to combine.
Heat coconut oil and maple syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add cinnamon and stir. When fragrant, about 30 seconds, add the rinsed amaranth and a pinch of sea salt and stir to coat.
Reserve 1/3 cup of the blue milk for serving. Add the rest of the milk to the amaranth and stir. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer covered, stirring often to make sure the bottom doesn't stick. Cook until most of the milk is absorbed and you get a thick and creamy consistency (about 20-25 minutes). If the liquid level becomes to low before the grains are tender, add a little bit more almond milk.
Spoon the hot amaranth into two bowls and pour some extra blue milk on top. Top with caramelized kumquats, fresh blueberries and chopped pistachios (or any of your favorite toppings).
Never give up. Great things take time.