(Image credit: Sarah E Crowder)

This meal was just the motivation I needed to branch out from the ingredients I usually reach for when I'm making dinner. Amaranth is a grain I've used on occasion in a cereal capacity, but for this bowl I took a savory route, pairing the mildly earthy grain with garam masala butternut squash, garlicky collards, and crisp apple slices. It's a porridge suitable for dinner. Well, more than suitable — more like a dinner to make you excited about the many ways you may be able to put this tiny but powerful grain to use.

(Image credit: Sarah E Crowder)

I toasted the amaranth in coconut oil before cooking, adding another layer to its already nutty flavor. In the 15 minutes it takes to cook, you can pull together the toppings, with special thanks to frozen, chopped collards and the magic that is cubed, cooked, and frozen butternut squash. Frozen vegetable are a huge time-saver here — and you don't have to sacrifice flavor.

The Freezer Factor

It turns out the freezer is the one-stop shop for an array of prepped veggies. I have no idea how long frozen butternut squash has existed, but I feel like I've been missing it all my life. Bypassing the peeling, cubing, and even cooking the winter squash is hugely helpful. The same goes for frozen collards, which are already washed, chopped, seasoned with garlic, and cooked until fork-tender.

Combining the two takes me back to my Southern roots, while the warming garam masala is a nod to Indian flavor. Stopping there would have been great, but apple slices add a crunch and sweetness that take this vegan grain bowl to fresh and playful.

Vegan Amaranth Bowl with Garam Masala Butternut Squash

Serves 4

2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon coconut oil, divided use
1 cup dry amaranth
2 cups water
10 ounces cubed, cooked, and frozen butternut squash
1 teaspoon garam masala
8 ounces frozen, chopped collard greens
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt
1 apple, cored and thinly sliced

Add 1 tablespoon coconut oil to a medium pot over medium-high heat. Once the oil is melted and hot, add the amaranth and sauté until the grains start popping, about 2 minutes. Add the water and increase the heat to high until the water comes to a boil. Stir the amaranth once, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and keep covered until ready to assemble the bowls.

Melt 1 teaspoon coconut oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Stir in the butternut squash and sprinkle with the garam masala and a pinch of salt. Sauté until heated through, about 5 minutes. Move the squash to a bowl and return the skillet to the stove. Add remaining 1 tablespoon coconut oil, the collard greens, garlic, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring often, until the collards are hot, about 5 minutes.

Divide the amaranth among four bowls. Top with an equal amount of the squash, collards, and apple slices and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

  • A sweet-crisp apple variety, like Honeycrisp or Gala, is especially nice in this grain bowl.