From couscous to quinoa, Maria Speck explores the art of cooking and baking whole grains with strong Mediterranean influences in Simply Ancient Grains.
Teff, the smallest of all of the grains, has an intriguing meatiness. This gluten-free Ethiopian staple also develops a soul-warming creaminess, similar to polenta, which I love. It is this quality that inspired me to pair it with bittersweet dandelion greens. In this recipe, I stir half the greens into the soft teff polenta and serve the rest of the vegetables on top. But you could also keep the greens and the polenta separate to make it a light vegetarian meal. As a side dish, it is versatile: try it next to simple sautéed chicken or grilled salmon.
- Add the broth, water, teff, and 1⁄4 teaspoon of the salt to a large heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the grains are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. You have to stir a few times with a wooden spoon, vigorously and scraping the bottom, especially after 8 minutes or so, because teff has a tendency to become sticky. Any lumps will dissolve with good stirring. If the pan runs dry, just add a few tablespoons of water and stir well.
- Meanwhile, cut off the dandelion stems and slice them crosswise into 1⁄4-inch pieces. You will have 2 to 3 cups. Cut the leaves crosswise into 1⁄2-inch ribbons. You will have 3 to 6 loosely packed cups; use whatever you have.
- Add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the green onions, dandelion stems, garlic, chile flakes, and the remaining 1⁄4 teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring all the while, until the onions wilt and the stems soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the dandelion leaves, in stages if needed, and cook until they just wilt, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in 1⁄2 cup of the cheese, and set aside, covered, until the teff is ready.
- To finish, add the remaining 1⁄2 cup of the cheese, the soy sauce, butter, and the pepper and stir to blend well. Stir in about half of the greens and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Place some teff polenta on a plate and top with a portion of the remaining greens. Grind on a few turns of pepper and serve at once, passing more cheese around.
Reprinted with permission from Simply Ancient Grains by Maria Speck, copyright © 2015. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.