I think there is no vegetable more worthy of a place in the gardens of the world than amaranth. That is a BIG statement, from one who loves so many vegetables and I have previously said that I thought fennel was my favourite! But that was for its versatility, not its beauty.
There is leaf amaranth and seed amaranth. There is regular (green) or purple; it is this spectacular purple one that I have grown....and I have an idea mine was seed amaranth, which I sowed to supplement the chook food. Actually, in the end I collected some of the super tiny grains, offered them to the chooks in my hand and the vote was unanimous....."Are you crazy? Bring us some spaghetti or sunflower seeds.... not this tiny stuff!"
Once you have amaranth, you will always have it and the self-sown seedlings transplant easily. It would look spectacular amongst sunflowers, as a backdrop to any garden bed. The young leaves can be eaten in salads and even the toughest, oldest leaves cook beautifully. Since they grow to over a metre or even to 2m in height, and grow for months and months over spring, summer and autumn, you will have plenty of time to cook them. Even when the gorgeous long, pink flower tassels are produced, the leaves stay edible and simply become more brilliant in colour. The seeds are very good for you.... but you will need glasses on to see them!
Laura at Mas du Diable has recently written a great piece about the amaranth's history, propagation and uses and this is what made me think of recommending it to some people in the northern hemisphere who could be sowing it now.
You get about a million microscopic seeds in a packet, so they are also incredibly economical and very fast to grow to a picking size.
Please, Heiko, sow some soon and tell us what you think. Buon appetito!