What to do with: November Essentials

What to do with: November Essentials

Ben @ Ben to Table

Read on for more about this month’s mix of heirloom, small-producer, and completely delicious pantry staples. These all coordinate to varying degrees with the Ethiopian ingredients in the Taste the World box, though they also all stand just fine on their own.

And, we’ve got a truly unique chocolate from Lithuania to finish the box off.

Here's what's in the box:

  *  Teff Flour (Shiloh Farms)
  *  Garbanzo Beans (Rancho Gordo)
  *  Yellow Split Peas (Zürsun Idaho Heirloom Beans)
  *  Fonio (Yolélé)
  *  Mafaldine (Bona Furtuna)
  *  Ambrosia Chocolate (Naive)         

First, the Garbanzo Beans can be cooked according to the instructions in my "How to Cook: Beans" post.

Teff Flour (Shiloh Farms)

Teff Flour

A primary staple of Ethiopian cooking, Teff is a truly delicious nutritional marvel – this whole grain flour is high in protein (including all 8 essential amino acids), calcium, iron, carbs, and fiber. The main ingredient in traditional injera, Ethiopian flatbread, teff is also a great flour to use in crepes, pancakes, or other sweet breads, cookies, and more.

There are two injera approaches I've had success with. One is the 1-day recipe in the Ethiopia cookbook, which requires an overnight ferment, but is otherwise quite straightforward. You can see that recipe here. The additional instructions it tells you to follow are here.

The other, which is yeasted and just requires an hour to rest, is here (I'd use more teff).

Here's a platter of treats I put together atop injera.

Injera platter

Garbanzo Beans (Rancho Gordo)

Garbanzo Beans

Like everything from Rancho Gordo, these garbanzos are just about the best version of chickpea you’re ever going to run across.

Chickpeas show up a lot in Ethiopian cooking – like in shimbra wat, for one – though they’re obviously far more versatile than that, too, with pasta, as the base for a salad, or more.

You can cook them basically like normal (see “How to cook: Beans” for more), with the additional caveat that the cooking liquid is even more useful than average. It’s called aquafaba, and is particularly beloved as an egg white substitute, for use anywhere from meringues to cocktails.

And, of course, if you wanted to make a traditional hummus, this is the place to start. I'm partial to Zahav's

Yellow Split Peas (Zürsun Idaho Heirloom Beans)

Yellow Split Peas

Yellow split peas are less common than their green counterparts, though they’re used more often in Ethiopian cooking – like, for instance, ater kik alicha, yellow split peas in a ginger and onion sauce. You can also use these for more of a classic split-pea soup, of course, but don’t hesitate to get creative! To cook, just boil in stock or water, usually for around 45-60 minutes, depending on the consistency you’re looking for.

For the Ethiopian dish above, simply cook as described, then drain and set the liquid aside. Meanwhile, sauté onions for 10 minutes before adding ginger and garlic for 1 minute. Then add turmeric and ajowan if you have it; if you don't, use makulaya blend; if you don't have that, a combination of thyme and cumin will suffice. Add a bit of water to prevent scorching, cover, and let cook on low heat for 10 minutes before adding in the split peas, some of the liquid, and seasoning with salt. Cook for 5-10 more minutes until a bit mushy, and mash with the back of your spoon if you want it to break up more. Garnish with jalapeño and serve.

Fonio (Yolélé)


Fonio is a gluten-free, ancient grain from West Africa. While not traditional to Ethiopia (very different regions!), fonio works especially well when given soups and stews to soak up, which lends itself quite nicely to Ethiopian dishes (if you’re taking a break from injera).

You can basically use fonio as a substitute for cous cous, and it’s *extremely* easy to cook. You can do it simply on the stove top, or microwave it following the instructions on the bag.

Yolélé's site is *full* of different recipes to try out, so I'd suggest you just head straight there!

Mafaldine (Bona Furtuna)          

Mafaldine pasta

Crafted from ancient grains in Sicily, this mafaldine (long noodles with ruffled edges) is bronze-died, hand-cut, and air dried. While there’s no specific Ethiopian recipe this corresponds to, Italy’s history in the country means there’s plenty of pasta in Addis.

These noodles lend themselves to a light sauce tossed simply, or you could even bake it into more of a warming casserole.

Ambrosia Chocolate (Naive)

Naive chocolate ambrosia

Naive is a super interesting bean-to-bar chocolatier from Lithuania, and this mini bar from their “Forager” collection should be fun! It features honey and bee pollen from their biodynamic apiary.

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