Creamy Amaranth Polenta and Chickpea Marinara
February 11, 2016

Creamy Amaranth Polenta and Chickpea Marinara | The Full Helping

If you’ve got a date night planned at home this year for Valentine’s Day, then allow me to suggest this creamy amaranth polenta and chickpea marinara as your main event. It’s easy to prepare, but it has the aroma and flavor of something slow-simmered and traditional. Best of all, it’s a wonderful way to showcase amaranth, a more unconventional, yet highly nutritious, whole grain.

Creamy Amaranth Polenta and Chickpea Marinara | The Full Helping

I created this dish with Steven in mind, as he’s a huge fan of any type of polenta. We enjoy it often at home and in many ways: grilled, baked, simmered on the stovetop, or cut into croutons. We’ve made it with millet, cornmeal, and even quinoa. Amaranth lends itself perfectly to a polenta preparation because it’s so finely textured, not unlike cornmeal. The resulting dish has just the slightest bit of chew (amaranth grains have character, in spite of their tiny size), as well as a creaminess and heft. It’s a hearty, surprisingly satisfying take on a classic.

Creamy Amaranth Polenta and Chickpea Marinara | The Full Helping

This dish isn’t only about the polenta, though: it’s also a perfect vehicle for what may be my new favorite pasta sauce, grain topper, etc. The chickpea marinara here comes together in a snap using pantry ingredients, which means that it’s perfect for cold weather, for last-minute entertaining, or simply for creating an easy, economical, and highly flavorful all-purpose sauce. I can’t wait to enjoy the leftovers over rice or quinoa, or as a topping for penne.

Creamy Amaranth Polenta and Chickpea Marinara

Author - Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

For the chickpea marinara:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small white or yellow onion diced
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt more to taste
  • Dash crushed red pepper
  • 1 28- ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (or regular diced tomatoes)
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas or 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

For the polenta:

  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups amaranth
  • 2/3 cups almond or soy milk
  • 2 heaping tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Black pepper to taste

Instructions

  • To make the marinara, heat the olive oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sugar. Saute and brown the onions for 5-7 minutes, or until they're golden. (Add a few tablespoons of water as you go if the onions start to stick to the bottom of the pot.) Add the garlic and saute for two minutes. Stir in the oregano, thyme, salt, red pepper, tomatoes, tomato paste, and chickpeas. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • To prepare the polenta, bring the broth and salt to boil in a medium sized pot. When it boils, whisk in the amaranth and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook, uncovered, stirring frequently for 20-25 minutes, or until the mixture is thick and a bit bubbly. Stir in the plant-based milk, nutritional yeast, garlic, and pepper. Simmer for another 5 minutes, or until the polenta has a thick texture and the amaranth is chewy yet tender, adding an extra splash of milk if it becomes overly thick.
  • Divide the amaranth into four bowls and top each with a cup of chickpea marinara. Serve.

Notes

Leftover marinara will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

This is the first preparation I’ve found for amaranth that makes it highly enjoyable without the need to mix it with other grains. I often find the texture of amaranth to be too gummy, but here, that texture really works, and the fact that the grain is stirred with broth and a touch of plant milk right until serving keeps it light and creamy. Amaranth is relatively high in both protein and calcium, as well as magnesium and potassium, so it’s most definitely a nutrient dense grain to include in your diet–and a great option for gluten-free folks.

Of course, if you don’t have amaranth or you don’t care for it, regular polenta will work perfectly in the recipe (follow your usual cooking method and prepare the sauce alongside), and you can also use the chickpea marinara to top a bowl of regular pasta.

I hope you’ll enjoy the dish no matter how you plate it!

Creamy Amaranth Polenta and Chickpea Marinara | The Full Helping

Tomorrow I’ll be sharing a terrific recipe from my friend Jess Nadel’s creative new cookbook, Superfoods 24/7, and hosting a giveaway as well. I hope to see you then!

xo

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    10 Comments
  1. Wow, Gena, this looks really interesting–what a wonderful idea to cook up amaranth as a polenta. I like the addition of the almond milk and nutritional yeast. And the chickpea marinara sounds pretty awesome too. So unique! I look forward to trying amaranth like this the next time I have some. Thanks! xo

  2. I’m so excited to see you’ve posted this recipe, I was hoping you would when I saw “amaranth polenta” on your meal plan! I was only just getting into polenta when I developed an allergy to corn, and since then have missed it! Can’t wait to try it, I already am obsessed with amaranth porridge and this seems like a savoury spin on that (: