Tiny grains of amaranth take on a nutty flavor and crispy texture when popped like popcorn in a pan. Here we combine them with coconut, cashews, and a touch of honey to create a sweet granola that goes great with yogurt or can simply be eaten by the handful.
What to buy: Amaranth is the seed of a plant once considered a weed; it has an unusually high amount of protein and a fresh flavor that lends itself to many baked goods such as pancakes and quick breads. It can be found at your local health food store, gourmet grocery store, or online.
Game plan: The granola can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Heat a medium frying pan over medium heat. When the pan is heated, add the amaranth and cover (a mesh splatter screen or glass lid is recommended—the seeds will begin popping like miniature popcorn kernels). Shake the pan continuously until about half of the seeds have popped, about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the seeds to a large bowl.
Combine butter, brown sugar, and honey in a small saucepan, place over medium heat, and stir until butter has melted and brown sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla, salt, and cinnamon; and set aside.
Add sugar mixture, cashews, coconut, and oats to reserved amaranth and stir until mixture is moist throughout.
Evenly spread mixture on a baking sheet. Bake until toasted and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Stir and continue to bake until lightly browned all over, about 5 minutes more.
Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely. Stir in cherries and serve.