Friday, October 16, 2009

VEGANMOFO 2009: Amaranth, Yuca, and White Sweet Potato

Tonight marked the last dinner for the "Week of New." The three new feature ingredients used were amaranth, yuca, and white sweet potato. I know, I know. That last one wasn't really adventurous, especially since it tasted an awful lot like regular old sweet potato. For the record, I'll say I tried 2.5 new ingredients today.

Yuca Con Mojo (with sweet potatoes)
I used this recipe that I found on Recipe Zaar. Very easy. I did substitute a little apple cider vinegar for the lime juice since I didn't have a lime on hand. I also, of course, added sweet potato to the mix (like the double-decker steam action I had going on?), and scaled down the proportions.Here's what the yuca tuber looks like, wax coating and all. This is also where we get tapioca (and tapioca flour/starch) from. Yuca is also known as cassava or manioc.Here it is naked and ready for its bubbly bath.And into the pot it goes. It's boiling in the bottom layer of the double-decker system I've rigged up.Sweet potatoes of both colors go in the top to get steamed.Here's my trusty microplane ready to grate several more cloves of garlic for the mojo sauce. Oh how I love this kitchen tool.Here's the mojo simmering away on the stove.Ta-da! There you have it. Not a very pretty looking dish, but it was tasty.

My initial thought for the amaranth was to use it in some type of casserole. However, I was hungry and I didn't want to ruin dinner by trying something out that didn't work. Besides, this mac and cheese recipe was calling my name after it was featured on the Vegan MoFo International blog. I ended up making this delightful mac and cheese and then made amaranth pudding for dessert.

Mac and Cheese with spinach
Amaranth, which seems to have a similar history to quinoa, is a seed collected from the plentiful fruit of an ancient plant. Among its many great nutritional qualities, amaranth provides a good source of protein, fiber, and minerals.
Coconut Amaranth Pudding
1/2 cup uncooked amaranth
1 can light coconut milk
4 tablespoons sugar (or to taste)
Cinnamon to sprinkle on top
Fresh fruit (blueberries, banana slices...etc) to top, optional

1. Cook amaranth in coconut milk and sugar on medium-low heat, mixing every so often for about 20 minutes, or until it looks like this:
2. Set aside to cool.
3. Pour pudding into serving dishes and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
5. Sprinkle with cinnamon and top with fruit.
I also made a pot of chamomile tea, with dried chamomile flowers we bought last weekend at a farmer's market. I've never enjoyed chamomile tea so much! I've since added chamomile to my mental garden and plan on making cheerful sun tea from homegrown chamomile and mint. That's when I have an actual garden...

The yuca had a very mild taste and was similar to potato, but not quite as dense. I just enjoyed eating something that looked so brown and icky on the outside. The white sweet potato was disappointingly like regular sweet potatoes. I like sweet potatoes (DocDufresne LOVES them), so this wasn't totally a bad thing. The Yuca Con Mojo as a dish was pretty good. The "bitter orange juice" thing wasn't my favorite. I think I would have liked it more with just the garlic and cumin flavors predominating the dish. DocDufresne loved it.

I liked the amaranth and want to explore my options for other ways to prepare it. It reminded me of a cross between quinoa and chia. It had a nutty flavor, similar to quinoa's, and didn't have the offensive crunch of chia. I can't really enjoy chia because of its crunch- especially in pudding. It turns out I'm not a huge fan of dishes flavored mostly with coconut milk. I don't really like coconut milk ice creams or yogurts. The coconut milk kind of over powered the dish. I was aiming for a rice pudding-type dessert, so it would have been better to do half coconut milk/ half rice milk (or even horchata- that would have been better!). Still, this was a tasty little dessert and I look forward to tweaking it a bit and having it again! I loved the texture and the way it really did become a pudding with no added ingredients to gel it up.

The mac and cheese was great! I'll try it with a breadcrumb topping next time.


  1. Wow, that's some serious MOFOing! The mojo looks delicious and I can't wait to try that mac n cheese.

  2. oh wow...that yuca recipe looks amazing..i wish i could find them here...

  3. Sorry I'm late, still catching up from VeganMofo. And that pudding with amaranth sounds like a wonderful idea. A great addition to any lunchbox.

  4. Chia needs to be soaked before making pudding. A tablespoon in a glass of water overnight - even a few hours really - will result in a gelatinous mixture that looks like fish eggs or sago. It can be a substitute for egg in some recipes and there will definitely be no crunch!
    Dr Bones