I’ve considered writing about teff for awhile, but I wasn’t sure if it was too obscure a food to feature as a Healthy Ingredient of the Week. However, I recently received an email from an employee asking about teff, and it’s now a mainstay on the shelves of my local grocery store, so I think the time is right to talk about this ancient grain.
Teff, a staple of Ethiopian cooking, is one of the oldest grains in the world. It also happens to be the smallest, but you would never guess that judging from its nutritional value. Teff, which is naturally gluten-free and safe for those with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, has more protein than wheat and is a good source of fiber. It’s also an excellent source of the mineral manganese and high in iron, calcium, magnesium, thiamin, and phosphorus. Teff can be purchased whole or ground up as flour. Whole teff can be a great substitute for rice as a side dish. In the recipe below, it makes a nice addition to an Ethiopian soup called wat, which is usually served with bread made from teff flour, but does not traditionally include whole teff in the soup.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup teff
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 medium yellow summer squash, sliced
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup cooked garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
½ cup lemon juice
¼ cup chopped cilantro
Ground black pepper, to taste
1. Heat oil in a heavy 4-quart pot over medium heat.\
2. Add onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
3. Add garlic and spices. Reduce heat to low and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
4. Add teff and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
5. Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil.
6. Cover, reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until teff is soft, about 15 minutes.
7. Add vegetables and beans; cook until tender, 10-15 minutes.
8. Add lemon juice and cook 3 more minutes.
9. Add cilantro just before serving. Season to taste with pepper. Makes 4-6 servings.
Recipe adapted from Bob’s Red Mill