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Quinoa, amaranth, teff, oh my!

Here’s the thing about Passover. If you’re a meat eater, you’re golden. Steak and potatoes twice a day? Like winning the lottery. Add a couple of fried eggs and you’re all set for breakfast. But what’s a breakfast cereal lover to do? Not to mention a vegetarian. And for heaven’s sake, what about dessert?

Enter the food group of grain-like seeds known to health food nuts and gluten allergics. The most prominent is quinoa, a “superfood”, packed with protein. Perfect for vegetarians. Then there’s the less known amaranth. Even more obscure is teff, a grass used to make injera, the sponge-like bread which is — literally — the basis of Ethiopian cuisine.

Aren’t these chametz? you may be asking yourself. Good news is these are definitely not chametz, and, according to many rabbis not even kitniyot. Passover food options just got a whole lot more interesting! (As always, there are differing halachic opinions on using these ingredients, so make sure to check with your local rabbi before cooking.)

For a cold breakfast, make a cereal mixture of puffed quinoa and amaranth, adding nuts, fruit and honey to taste. Viola, cereal and milk!

Popping amaranth or quinoa is similar to making stove-top popcorn. Heat a sauté or saucier pan; when it’s nice and hot add the raw seeds and cover. While the seeds are popping, shake the pan. When the popping sound dies down, the seeds are puffed. Let it cool before creating your home-made granola/muesli mix. Note: puff the amaranth and quinoa separately.

This warm and nutty cinnamon quinoa is a wonderful alternative to an oatmeal porridge. Agave nectar is kosher for Passover, but in the likely case you don’t have any on hand, honey serves as a good substitute.

The Passover companion dish is typically a potato variation. But quinoa is a superb base for filling yet light salads. Cook quinoa as you would rice — 2 cups liquid to 1 cup grain, and toss with a citrus-based dressing along with a combination of fruit and/or veg. Some suggestions:

  • Chopped cucumbers, sliced almonds, fresh mint, pomegranate seeds
  • Cubed feta, scallions or red onions, sliced spinach
  • Julienned carrots, diced chili peppers, fresh cilantro, with a touch of sugar

And finally, dessert. Here’s the secret long known to the gluten-free community: quinoa and amaranth are also ground into flour. From the halachic perspective, it gets trickier here. Rabbis are concerned that quinoa and chametz grains are processed in the same factory plants. Ground into flour, it becomes nearly impossible to ensure the quinoa flour is 100% chametz free. So be prepared to make your own, which is actually very easy: Simply grind in a blender until fine.

This recipe for an amaranth, quinoa and dark chocolate cake results in a moist, dense dessert, perfect for serving alongside stewed fruit.

For the traditionalists out there, tomorrow we’ll be posting our favorite recipe for flourless chocolate cake. Make sure to check back — you won’t be disappointed!

7 thoughts on “Quinoa, amaranth, teff, oh my!

  1. easy chinese food recipes

    Quinoa, amaranth, teff, oh my! at Rocky Mountain Jew is a superb post, I found your site researching google for a related theme and came to this. I couldnt find to much alternative details on this piece of writing, so it was good to find this one.

  2. Food Lover

    Wonderful quinoa recipes. We tried one with cubed beets, cucumbers and quartered almond. Very crunchy and refreshing.

  3. Pat

    AWESOME!!! im new to the gluten-free world, so i was wondering how i was going to do passover this year…G-d is Great!! I also found gluten-free matzos. 😀

    thank you for all your hard work


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