Amaranth and blue cheese "risotto"

Amaranth "risotto"

I wanted the first recipe I posted to be a show-stopper.

But true to life and Murphy's law the recipe I had been dreaming about for almost a week never quite came to fruition. I mean, it was still good (really good ...) and definitely got points for being interesting, but we're aiming for incredible and this one didn't 100% make that mark. But there's so much potential ! Which is why this flawed recette is still totally post-worthy.* And who knows ? Any personal touch could be the one that changes a mediocre to recipe into a phenomenal one -- I'm including a list of notes and ideas for improvements. This is when thoughts are most appreciated by anyone compelled to try this premature recipe out !

Pan-glazed tempeh
Amaranth is super hearty, happy little seed that your body enjoys as much as your taste buds do and that jumps out all over the stove when you go to pour it into pot (fun, fun). When it cooks down it creates a super-velvety texture between the seeds, which is why it seemed perfect for a risotto-style dish.** We had it for lunch the other day with sauteed onions and mushrooms, a poached egg and heavy hand of Valentina.

Trying to figure out how I could up-grade a one-grain wonder to a hearty and sophisticated dish, I imagined finding something to enhance the creamy texture surrounding each seed and complementing the richness of the mushrooms and onions. Blue cheese came to mind -- well, because in the hamburger school of
thought, carmalized onions and mushrooms needs blue cheese ...

Considering, in retrospect, that amaranth is not a hamburger, it might not have been the best choice. It still came out super tasty, but I think fresh goat cheese might work as promising substitute, to tone down the richness a bit and not lose all of the seedy-grassy flavors in the amaranth.

Amaranth mushroom "risotto"

Amaranth and blue cheese "risotto" with mushrooms and tempeh
To veganize this recipe omit the cheese and butter and simply garnish with a big glug of extra-virgin olive oil -- it'll not only still taste great, but will make for a healthier final product (allowing for a greater capacity of guilt-free dessert).

Olives, walnuts or pinenuts would also make great garnishes on this dish -- and you could think of using seitan or firm tofu (or scrambled eggs) in place of the tempeh.

1 cup amaranth
2 1/2 cups water (or 1 1/4 cup mushroom or veg stock, if it's handy, and 1 1/4 cup water)
1 large onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed and roughly chopped
1 cup chopped shitake or baby portabello mushrooms
2/3 cup chanterelle mushrooms (or oyster mushrooms or more shitake/baby bellos)
2 Tbl olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
Juice of half a lemon, + 1 tsp zest
1/2 Tbl butter
2 Tbl. finely chopped mint, + a couple sprigs for garnish
3/4 cup (roughly 3-4 oz) crumbled blue cheese (like gorgonzola, bleu d'auvergne, or roquefort) or fresh goat cheese
Thyme (dried), red pepper flakes (or tabasco), paprika, (sea) salt n' (fresh ground) peppa
8 oz marinaded tempeh (if you're going the tempeh route, see the recipe below)

Put amaranth in a small pot over med heat with water (or water+stock) and a pinch of salt. Reduce heat after boiling and simmer, stirring occasionally, until seeds are cooked (about 15-20 mins).

At the same time (or maybe, acutally, just before you put the amaranth on), heat olive oil and butter in a med sized skillet. Add the onion and sautée until tender and lightly golden, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms and sautée until mushrooms are well cooked and onions are a deep gold color. Add lemon juice and white wine and keep sauteeing until the wine cooks down to half of what it was (uh, what's that, like, 2 Tbl ? Or just figure it's about another 3-4 minutes). Salt and pepper to taste.

When the amaranth is almost finished cooking, stir in 3/4 of the sauteed mushrooms and onions, about 1/3 of the cheese, and lemon zest. Add a couple dashes of thyme, red pepper flakes and black pepper to taste.

Add the mint just before serving and garnish with the left over mushrooms, cheese and mint.

Serves 3-4 as a meal, 6 as an appetizer

Marinaded Tempeh

This recipe is modeled off of Heidi Swanson's, (this one,) which is one of my favorite tempeh recipes. Feel free to tweek to taste.

About 8 oz tempeh steak, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 Tbl orange zest
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp soy sauce
1 Tbl toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cumin
pinch red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, minced

Put it all in a tupperware and leave to marinate 3-6 hours (or overnight in the fridge). When you're ready to cook it, pour the marinade off the tempeh and put it to the side. Add tempeh to a hot skillet (over med-high heat) with olive oil and sear it on both sides (about 3-4 minutes each). Pour the marinade over the tempeh and continue cooking over (high heat now) until the marinade reduces and the tempeh looks glazed.

It only looks like a bitch to clean

*Because, if I make the decision to only post things that I know are going to taste incredible for every personal touch in every kitchen everywhere, this would be a blog about toast (because how could anyone go wrong with toast ?).

**Or breakfast, but that's another post.

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