Amaranth, Squash and Herb Salad
This salad is fun, delicious and bursts with genuine Mexican flavors and textures. Photograph by Tami Ganeles-Weiser/The Weiser Kitchen
For the salad:
½ cup amaranth
2½ cups low-sodium vegetable broth
4 teaspoons salt, divided
4 cups water
3 medium (about 2 ¼ pounds total) frozen or fresh yucca, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice (about 3 cups)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium (about 3 pounds) butternut squash, or small Mexican calabaza (pumpkin), peeled and cut into ½-inch dice (about 2½ cups)
2 small jicama, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
1 medium ripe papaya, peeled and seeded and cut into ½ -inch dice
2 cubanelle peppers, stems and seeds removed, cut into ½ -inch dice
½ small bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 medium bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
12 to 15 large fresh mint leaves, chiffonade
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
For the dressing:
2 heads roasted garlic (see Kitchen Tip below)
Juice and zest of one large lime
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1) Combine the amaranth, stock and ½ teaspoon of the salt in a small saucepan and heat over high until it comes to a boil, lower to a simmer, cover and stir well. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 to 45 minutes. Drain any excess stock and set aside to cool. This can be made up to 3 days in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator.
2) Combine the water and 2 teaspoons of the salt in a medium-sized saucepan set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Add the yucca, stir, and cook for 20 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove from the water and place on paper towels or in a strainer to drain and dry.
3) Preheat the oven to 400° F. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper or silicone cooking pads. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over each sheet. Arrange the yucca in a single layer on one and the squash on the other. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon salt each over the yucca and squash and turn with tongs gently to coat. Bake, uncovered, for 30 to 35 minutes, until both the yucca and butternut squash are tender when pierced with a fork and the edges are browned. Remove from the oven and set aside.
4) Make the dressing: Combine the roasted garlic, lime juice and zest, salt and black pepper in the bowl of a food processor or blender and process until smooth. With the processor or blender running, drizzle in the olive oil until the mixture is thoroughly blended. 5) Combine the amaranth, squash, yucca, jicama,papaya, cubanelle pepper, cilantro, parsley and mint in a large bowl. Drizzle with the dressing and toss gently to coat. Add the tomatoes and toss. Serve immediately.
To roast 2 whole heads of garlic, preheat the oven to 350° F. Prepare a sheet of foil for each head and coat each with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Slice off and discard the root end of 1 head of garlic and place it, cut-side-down, on 1 sheet of foil. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil. Wrap the aluminum foil around the garlic. Repeat with the remaining head of garlic and 1 tablespoon oil. Place both parcels on a baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour, until the garlic is very soft and caramelized. Unwrap and squeeze out the clove from the heads to remove the softened, roasted garlic. Squeeze it into a small container. If you are not using it immediately, it will keep covered, in the refrigerator for 2 days.
Tami Ganeles-Weiser is a food anthropologist, trained chef, recipe developer, writer and founder of TheWeiserKitchen.com.(http://www.TheWeiserKitchen.com