I hadn’t heard of amaranth before my late neighbour started throwing clippings over the fence into our backyard. “The chickens. They like it. You give it to the chickens!”, he said. I did, but they didn’t seem to care for it. Within a few months, an unstoppable wave of little green sprouts began appearing literally everywhere. During one of our frequent conversations over the back fence I asked him what it was. He didn’t know the English word for it, but he was adamant that “You eat it! You like it! Some oil and pepper and lemona! You cook it up!”. A bit of image searching lead me to Amaranth spp.
It’s all edible and here in Canberra (and many other places) it grows like a weed. And because it’s edible, requires no watering, grows quickly and at high volume, all of a sudden I had an unlimited supply of greens. Spinach, chard, kale, whatever’s green and you forgot to buy it, amaranth is the answer. Need a pesto but don’t have basil or pine nuts? Amaranth and cashews. Need spinach for a fritatta? Amaranth. Greens for a stir fry? Amaranth. Greens for a soup? Amaranth. Saag? Amaranth.
Many people from many other places already know this. But I’ve never heard it mentioned in casual conversation. If you end up with this in your garden, you’ll probably never be able to get rid of it. So I’d recommend making the most of the situation and eating it. And if you struggle with gardening, use it as a shortcut to leafy greens – it’s impossible to fail, and it tastes good.