Generally, I consider myself an early adopter, but I have to admit that sometimes, I really am the very last person alive to hear a new band, read the latest bestseller, or try a trendy food. That would definitely be the case with amaranth, which I didn’t discover until everyone and their grandmothers were already on board. Better late than never, though, right?

Amaranth is one of those superfoods that, along with quinoa and brown rice, ought to be a staple in every cook’s pantry. It’s fast-cooking, high in lysine and calcium, and has a wholesome, earthy flavor. Its versatility is part of its allure: It can be used in sweet and savory dishes, and tastes equally delicious served hot or cold. When popped, amaranth can even be tossed into your homemade muesli or sprinkled over your morning yogurt-and-fruit compote.

I like to incorporate popped amaranth into salads in the same way I would add any cooked grain, to give it heft and a nutritious, nutty bite. When popping your amaranth, don’t be too disappointed if each seed doesn’t explode into a tiny white kernel. The non-popped seeds are perfectly edible and deliciously crunchy.

Popped Amaranth
Makes 1 cup

1/4 cup uncooked amaranth

Heat a dry skillet over high heat for 2 minutes. To test the pan’s readiness, add a drop of water; If it hisses and bounces across the pan’s surface, it’s ready. Working 1 Tbs. at a time, add amaranth to pan and cover with a lid. While amaranth pops, shake the pan. Once the popping stops, pour the amaranth kernels into a bowl and repeat process with remaining seeds.