Fee, Fi, Fo, Fonio

Move over, quinoa; there’s a new ancient grain in town. Protein-rich, gluten-free, and quick-cooking, fonio is the best kept secret in wholesome superfoods. Though little known in the western world, this African staple has all the makings of the next big healthy craze.

Neutral yet subtly nutty in flavor like good old brown rice, fluffy like fresh couscous, and faster to whip up than a pot of pasta, the only barrier to mainstream adoration is distribution. Though the supply chain is especially stressed by the current pandemic, fonio has long suffered from inaccessibility. No one’s out there flying the fonio flag, demanding more, so most consumers and home cooks simply don’t know what they’re missing. They say ignorance is bliss, but this is more akin to an act of negligence, cruel and careless.

Uses for fonio know no limits. Receptive to marinades and sauces the world over, it thirstily drinks in the flavors of a stew while retaining toothsome tenderness. Use it cold in salad; serve it hot as a side; form it into patties and pan fry; blend it into batters, cakes, and cookies; don’t even bother cooking it, and use it instead of breadcrumbs; the only way you can do fonio wrong is to keep it off the menu.

For basic cookery, all you need is 1 part fonio to 2 parts boiling water. Combine and let rest for about 5 minutes, fluff with a fork, and enjoy. You don’t need a stove, a microwave, or even electricity; it’s really that simple. Your hard work will be rewarded with a nutritional dynamo, rich in B-vitamins, iron, and calcium.

That said, there’s no need to stick with the bare basics, of course.

Golden grains spring to life with savory aromatics and a touch of spice. It’s the kind of side dish that could very well steal the show, and considering the protein quotient, which is bolstered by tender chickpeas, it’s not a stretch to call it a one-pot meal all by itself. Kernels of corn enhance the sunny yellow appearance, but a bit of contrast would be a nice option, be it from green peas, red bell peppers, or even dark, chewy raisins.

Oh, little fonio, this is just the start. There are big things in store for this tiny grain. Just wait until the rest of the world catches on. Quinoa had better watch its back.

Yield: Makes 4 - 6 Servings

Fonio Pilaf

Fonio Pilaf

Golden fonio springs to life with savory aromatics and a touch of spice. It's the kind of side dish that could very well steal the show, and considering the protein quotient, which is bolstered by tender chickpeas, you it's not a stretch to call it a one-pot meal all by itself. Kernels of corn enhance the sunny yellow appearance, but a bit of contrast would be a nice change of pace, be it from green peas, red bell peppers, or even dark, chewy raisins.

Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 12 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Low-Sodium Vegetable Stock
  • 1 Cup Fonio
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Onion, Diced
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Turmeric
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 (14-Ounce) Can Chickpeas, Drained
  • 1 Cup Fresh, Canned and Drained, or Frozen and Thawed Corn Kernels
  • 2/3 Cup Roasted, Unsalted Peanuts, Roughly Chopped

Instructions

    1. In a medium saucepan, bring the vegetable stock to a boil over medium heat. Add the fonio, cover, and turn off the heat. Let stand for 4 - 5 minutes, until the liquid is fully absorbed. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
    2. Meanwhile, warm the oil in a medium skillet set over moderate heat. When shimmering, add the onion, garlic. Saute until translucent and aromatic; about 4 - 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the turmeric, cumin, cayenne, and salt, stirring to combine. Add the chickpeas and corn, cooking for 2 minutes longer.
    3. Toss the hot vegetable mixture together with the cooked fonio in a large bowl, mixing thoroughly to incorporate. Top with chopped peanuts and serve hot.

Notes

In a pinch, plain couscous can be substituted for the fonio.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

6

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 257Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 145mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 5gSugar: 5gProtein: 9g

All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimates.

4 thoughts on “Fee, Fi, Fo, Fonio

  1. Thank you for introducing us to a new ancient grain! Can’t wait to give this one a try. Have not seen it in the stores yet but I am sure it will be catching on soon, once the restocking happens. Looks so light and fluffy but yet nutty.

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