If you have not tried the teeny-tiny super-grain Teff yet, now might be the time. Teff is the smallest grain in the world, but a serious little powerhouse of nutrition. This brown grain has a grassy flavor similar to millet and amaranth, and it’s full of iron, fiber, protein, and calcium. It also falls into the category of ancient grains, which generally means that the grains available now are essentially the same food that folks ate thousands of years ago- in contrast to over-hybridized corn and wheat strains. Teff grains, which range in color from ivory to brown, can also be ground into a flour and used for muffins and breads. It is most commonly used in Ethopian foods, specifically injera bread, which I have yet to sample. Teff is also gluten-free, and so is this recipe.
This is a great recipe to begin cooking with Teff, which has a seedy, grassy flavor that might require some time to appreciate. I find that mixing new grains into more-common foods (in this case, brown rice and corn) makes it more palatable. And whether or not you graduate onto eating Teff plain is besides the point: teff adds nutrition and flavor to this dish or others, even in small amounts. Try cooking up this Three-Grain Polenta, which is an extra whole-grainy version of my Brown Rice Polenta; you could even go crazy and add quinoa for a four-grain version! The vegan version of this recipe is also delicious, but do add some Earth Balance or olive oil to replace the creaminess of the cheese. Serve alongside greens, roasted veggies, or smothered with a hearty black bean stew for a seriously quick, warm, and filling winter meal.
1/4 cup teff
1/2 cup polenta (course-ground cornmeal)
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup cubed sharp cheddar or Paremesan cheese
1/2 cup soymilk (more to taste)
salt & pepper to taste
- Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a saucepan. Lower heat to lowest setting, and add teff and polenta. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until all liquid is absorbed.
- Remove cover, add brown rice, soymilk, salt and pepper. Stir to combine, and add extra liquid (water or soymilk) if necessary- the polenta should be very creamy and a bit runny. Taste to ensure that polenta is soft and not at all crunchy. Add cheese (or olive oil) and stir until melted. Serve warm; but know that this also makes great leftovers!
For more Teff inspiration, check out 101 cookbooks; Heidi’s recipe for Polenta-style Teff Squares was the inspiration for my Teff purchases. She has many recipes for Teff in her books, and one online for a corn quiche with teff crust (with eggs) that looks gorgeous. Also, the Gluten-Free Girl wrote a great post about Teff, and included a recipe for chocolate banana bread with Teff flour (with eggs). Check out Bob’s Red Mill if you cannot find teff locally.
Enjoy the whole grain goodness!