If it's known at all, the super-grain amaranth is known as a key ingredient in hot breakfast cereals. In Mexico, it's used in a delicious sweet called Alegria. Here, the grain goes savory and adds body and substance to a traditional soufflé.
This recipe is adapted from Maria Beaz Kijac's book, The South American Table: The Flavor and Soul of Authentic Home Cooking from Patagonia to Rio de Janeiro (Harvard Common Press, 2003). I plan to make it again soon only I'll omit the nutmeg and add some diced, roasted poblano chiles and a touch of Mexican Oregano. I'll keep you posted!
To cook basic amaranth: Combine 1/2 cup of Amaranth Seeds and 1 1/2 cups water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Then simmer on low, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes.
- Dry bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (plus butter for greasing the soufflé mold)
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 cup hot milk
- 4 large eggs, separated
- 4 ounces Gouda or other good melting cheese, shredded
- 1 cup cooked amaranth (see above)
- Preheat oven to 400F. Prepare a 6-8 cup soufflé mold by buttering it thoroughly, especially the sides, and sprinkling it evenly with the bread crumbs. Shake out any excess crumbs.
- To make the sauce, heat the butter over medium heat in a large saucepan (note: Kijac calls for a small saucepan but it will overflow if you make the recipe as directed- Steve). Add the flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until foamy, about 2 minutes. Do not let it brown. Remove from heat and, with a wire whisk, beat in the milk, stirring until smooth. Return to heat and bring to a boil. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 1 minute. Remove from heat and beat in the egg yolks one at a time. Add the cheese and stir until melted. Mix in the amaranth.
- In a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they hold firm peaks. Fold a third of the whites into the amaranth mixture to lighten it, then fold in the rest.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared mold. Place in the middle of the oven, reduce heat to 375F and bake until golden brown and puffed. Turn off the oven and leave the soufflé inside for another 5 minutes, if necessary.
- Serve hot, dipping a serving spoon in the center and dishing the soufflé out with the help of a serving fork.