January 30, 2013

Pigweed consumption: it’s richer than you think!

Pigweed or Amaranthus dubius is an indigenous vegetable in Asia, Europe and Africa. It is a rare species in North America but it is possible to spot a few plantations, like I did last summer within the downtown area of Guelph. With climate modifications becoming an increasing concern in developing countries, farmers in several Kenyan communities are growing Amaranthus to deal with food and nutritional insecurity due to its drought resistant nature. Amaranthus is a fast growing plant species requiring very little to no maintenance. Most people may recognize it as a type of weed i.e. one does not need to obtain it from the local market. This makes it a suitable commodity for low-income households. Its nutritional benefits outweigh those in spinach and this has made Amaranthus a preferred vegetable substitute in several Kenyan communities. Commonly known as ‘terere’ among the Kenyan Ameru and Kikuyu tribes, Amaranthus is served cooked and is an accompaniment of ‘ugali’ during lunch or dinner. Included below is a simple ‘terere’ recipe as prepared by my family in Kenya.


1 tbsp salt
Warm water
1 bunch ‘terere’/pigweed
3 tbsp Cooking oil
1 onion chopped
3 pieces of garlic cloves
2 tomatoes diced
½ a bunch of coriander


Ø  Prior to cooking, remove the terere leaves from the stem then wash them in a bowl with warm water and salt until all the soil is out.

Ø  In a small saucepan, add the cooking oil followed by the chopped up onions.

Ø  Cook for a few minutes then add the crushed garlic, stir until golden brown.

Ø  Add the tomatoes and chopped up coriander and let them cook for a while.

Ø  (Optional) Add a pinch of salt and/or pepper to taste.

Ø  Add the terere leaves, stirring the mixture and allow cooking for 5-8 minutes.

Ø  Serve hot with ugali and beef stew/ bean stew.

Additional Recipes:

Terere lasagna courtesy of ‘mpishi poa’- http://www.mpishipoa.com/terere-lasagne/

Maundu, P., Kimiywe J., Mbumi, M., Smith, I. F., Johns, T., and Eyzaguirre, P. B. Nutrition and indigenous vegetables in urban and peri-urban agriculture in Kenya. Biodiversity International.

Written by: Angela Kabii, ECVOntario, University of Guelph
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