Kampanoules With Mushrooms and Amaranth

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IMG_1417-1Always, always, always…the best sauces for pasta are in the time it takes to boil them. This instance was no different.

I decided to use “kampanoules” (καμπανούλες) or little bells and I paired them with mushrooms and some amamaranth. Us Greeks eat alot of amaranth and we call them vlita.

Amaranth can be picked in the wild and we most often will boil them until softened, strain and toss in extra-virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice. This is a “super food” if ever there was one. Loaded with iron, good for the body and everyone should have more amaranth on their table!IMG_1420-1

Here in Toronto, I can find amaranth at Asian and some stores that cater to the Caribbean community. If you can’t find them, other bitter greens like mustard green, beet greens or even baby spinach would work here.

Since this is a quick pasta sauce, all I used were the tender tops of the amaranth (wilted nicely when the sauce was tossed with the pasta).

What more can  I say about this dish? It’s got mushrooms, extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, Boukovo (chillis), Feta, fresh thyme and mint with a final grate of Kefalotyri cheese.

Kampanoules With Mushrooms and AmaranthIMG_1424-1

(serves 4)

Approx. 3 cups of Kampanoules (or rotini, orecchiette or other pasta of choice)

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

12 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 cups of button mushrooms, sliced

4 cups of amaranth tops and leaves,  (reserve thick stems for boiling for a salad)

2 tsp. of Boukovo (dried chilis)

6-7 fresh thyme sprigs

1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped

1/2 cup of crumbled Feta cheese

salt and pepper to taste

grated Kefalotyri (or Romano) cheese

  1. Place a large pot of water on your stove-top and bring to a boil. Add a good amount of salt when it comes to a boil. Wash the top stems and leaves of your amaranth and boil for a minute, remove with a slotted spoon and then blanche in cold water and strain. Reserve.
  2. In the same pot of boiling water, add your pasta and cook according to package instructions.
  3. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, add your olive oil and add the garlic and for the olive oil to capture the flavour of the garlic for about 3-4 minutes (be careful not to brown your garlic).
  4. Add the mushrooms, the leaves of fresh thyme (stripped from the branches) and the Boukovo. Stir and allow to simmer while occasionally tossing for 5-6 minutes. Set aside.
  5. When your pasta is “al dente”, reserve some of the pasta water and strain your pasta. Add the pasta into the skillet with the mushrooms and add the amaranth, crumbled Feta cheese and chopped mint and toss to coat. If the “sauce” is too dry, add some pasta water and continue to toss until well-coated.
  6. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt (the Feta should be enough) and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, grate some Kefalotyri cheese and fresh ground black pepper.
  7. Divide equally among 4 plates and serve. Serve this dish with a Ligas “leufko” or white.

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© 2007-2009 Peter Minakis

© 2009,
Peter Minakis

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29 Comments for “Kampanoules With Mushrooms and Amaranth”


good to hear you can get vlita where you are – our vlita has now gone to seed, and we are moving onto stamnagathi (the winter greens of choice in crete)


so, where can one find amaranth growing in the wild? greece, i assume, but anywhere local? great dish, peter–seems to be both healthy and delicious!


We don’t have any good vlita here,so I’ll use the spinach, but i have a pack of mushrooms in the fridge. Very healthy pasta Peter, I will make this on Monday!


I agree with you 100+% about the best sauces being the fresh ones that take little-to-no time. Amaranth, however, is foreign to me in that I’ve never tried it but I will keep an eye open when I’m at the produce market.


So packed full of flavour Peter. Good choice of substitutes as well for those of us who live in smaller communities where, dare I say, “exotic” ingredients are not available.


It sounds lovely Peter. I agree about fast pasta sauces often being delicious too. Sometimes I just do garlic, chilli and butter. Amaranth is the same thing as callaloo, right? In which case, I have a plentiful supply with all these Caribbean shops round here.


That pasta looks good! I agree, the best pasta sauces are the ones that are finished before the paste is done cooking. I will have to track down some fresh amamaranth to try.


I agree, Peter! Love the flavors here (mushroom fans unite!)
I’ll have to keep an eye out for that pasta- it’s so pretty!


The only amaranth I can find is in grain form. I’m assuming that is the seeds of the plant. I wish I could find the leaves.


You’ve done it again! Another ‘must make’…..this looks so tasty and good. I woould have to sub the amaranth though as I have more chance of flying to the moon than getting that here lol


Shrooms, Greens and Garlic (and lots of it)! This looks scrumptious and I heading out to Hollywood Farmers market STAT to find Amaranth!


I love the word: Kampanoules. LOL
Just to hear it, it puts you in a good mood. The dish looks terrific Mr Petah, as always. Terrific!


We do eat a lo of amaranth where i come from, but in a very different way.. mostly stirfried tender with garlic & onion & served as a side. Now i know something else to do with it. I grew a whole lot of amaranths in my yard this year, both the green & the red ones.