Creamy Amaranth Porridge with Asparagus, Herbs, and Poached Egg

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Spring is finally here!

Today, I bought my first bunch of green asparagus of the year. For me, this marks the beginning of a new season. Some might tell me I have been “germanized”, but I quite like the enthusiastic welcoming of some seasonal vegetables here. I love to eat oatmeal, or porridge in the morning, flecked with some fresh or dried fruit, and a drizzle of maple syrup. But, this one I just made is a whole different game. The main grain used is amaranth, with some oats in the back ground. I used some typical south-east Asian ingredients, such fragrant lemongrass, keffir lime leaves, and a good amount of coconut milk to give this savory porridge a creamy consistency.

Amaranth is a nutritional powerhouse. It is high in protein, calcium, magnesium, fiber and potassium, and has been grown since the Aztec era, although sadly the Spaniards have eliminated it when they invaded the new world. It is luckily making a come back. It has similar nutritional values as quinoa, but at half the cost.

Make this delicious porridge for lazy brunch on a sunny spring weekend. You will really spoil yourself and your loved ones. Cheers!

Creamy Amaranth Porridge with Asparagus, herbs, and Poached Egg

*Note: Kefir lime leaves can be found in frozen section at any asian supermarkets. Lemongrass can be found either fresh, or frozen. If you can’t find edamame, use frozen peas instead. If using peas, add them to the porridge with the asparagus.

Serves 2-3

2 tsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 thumbnail sized ginger, peeled, and finely chopped
1 lemongrass, tender inner part, finely chopped
4 keffir lime leaves
5 coriander stalks, finely chopped
100g amaranth, washed and drained
40g rolled oats
440ml coconut milk
200ml water or vegetable stock
A handful edamame, shelled (substitute with peas, if unavailable. See recipe note*)
8 green asparagus, trimmed, and cut into bite sized pieces
5-6 ramp (wild garlic or bärlauch) leaves, finely chopped
Salt&pepper

To serve,
Coriander leaves
Lime wedges
Poached eggs
Sriracha hot sauce

1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, coriander stalks, and lime leaves, and cook until soft.
2. Add the amaranth, oats, edamame, coconut milk, a good pinch of salt and water. Bring to a boil, put the lid on, and turn down the heat to medium-low.
3. After about 15 mins, add the asparagus and ramp leaves. Turn up the heat to medium. Stir constantly for about 5 until the asparagus and amaranth are tender, and has reached a porridge consistency. Remove the lime leaves. Check for seasoning. Add some freshly ground pepper.
4. Serve with coriander leaves, lime wedges, hot sauce, and poached eggs on top.

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Fusili with Pea, Lemon, and Herb Pesto

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Hot, hot hot!!!

For the past 4 days, the weather has been seriously warm. And with the temperature exceeding 30°C  with sweltering sunshine, I finally wanted to cook with basil. In my kitchen, I usually try to cook with the season’s ingredients. The other day, I was thinking about food pairings, especially with herbs. For example, it’s rare that there are autumn or winter vegetables that match well with soft herbs like chervil, dill, tarragon, basil, or mint, but on the other hand, sturdy herbs like rosemary, sage, thyme,  or bay, go better together with these vegetables. Let me give you some specific examples; basil goes well with tomatoes, strawberries, capsicums, and zucchini, which are summer vegetables. But, it’s not such a good pairing with to earthy tasting, hearty cold weather vegetables like pumpkin, squash, parsnip, or cabbage.  Now summer is finally upon us here, I started craving basil, which hasn’t happened in many months for me. Peas are one of the first summer vegetables you can find and basil and mint are natural pairings. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to find fresh local peas. I bought some once years ago but I haven’t been lucky since. If you are buying fresh peas, it’s important to buy the ones from your local farms, as the sweetness of the peas starts to diminish quickly after they are picked.  Here in this recipe, I have used frozen peas. I know using frozen vegetables might not sound too “foodie”, but peas are about the only frozen vegetable you would find in my freezer, and I find they taste actually quite similar to freshly podded peas.

This dish I made for lunch today is easy and quick to make. It is delicious served either hot or cold, so depending on how hot it is outside, you can give it a ring of change in the dish’s temperature too.

If you are looking for another recipe for a hot day, the recipe I submitted, cold beetroot and yoghurt soup, for the Guardian won the Reader’s Recipe Swap two weeks ago. Click here to see the full recipe.

Have a nice week guys! xo-A.

Fusili with Pea, Lemon, and Herb Pesto

Note: This dish can be served either hot or cold.

Serves 2-3

200g frozen or fresh peas (podded weight)
1 medium sized leek, white and light green parts only, sliced
1 clove garlic, (new season’s garlic, if possible)
A small handful mint leaves (about 4g)
A large handful basil leaves (about 8g)
40ml olive oil
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper, to taste
350g fusili
80g feta cheese, (I used goat’s feta but any feta would work well) to serve- optional

1. In a small saucepan, bring the lightly salted water to boil. Add the peas, sliced leek, and garlic. Boil for 1.5 mins. Drain and refresh under cold water. Drain well and add to the food processor. Add the herbs, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Blend until roughly pureed. Set aside.
2. Bring a large saucepan with generously salted water to boil. Cook the pasta until al dante. Drain. Refresh under cold water, if serving cold. Stir in the pesto and serve with some feta cheese on top.