Vegetarian Teff Taco "Meat" + Taco Bowls
Teff taco meat. 100% vegetarian — but looks like beef crumbles! This recipe is a riff on all of the veg taco meat substitutes I’ve seen on ol’ Pinterest, using one of my favorite grains: the ever amazing teff.
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: not enough people know about teff!
Teff is an ancient grain native to Ethiopia. It’s high in protein, iron, calcium and resistant starch (known to improve insulin sensitivity, increase satiety, aid in weight loss and positively influence the gut microbiome). It tastes like buckwheat with a soft cocoa undertone. It’s one of the tiniest grains on the planet, about the size of a poppy seed. And it’s naturally gluten free.
My usual way of preparing teff is as a breakfast porridge. I also often use the flour it in baked goods and the grain in stews. The most famous use for teff is in injera — the staple bread of Ethiopia and Eritrea. It’s a traditional sourdough flatbread reminiscent of a large, spongy pancake. Teff is very versatile, and adds a lot of nutritional bang for your buck (it’s very filling thanks to that resistant starch!).
This teff taco meat really hits the mark for me. Not only does it hold it down on the nutrition front, but it’s deeply flavorful and legitimately mimics meat. I use nutritional yeast, sun-dried tomatoes and balsamic for umami. Fresh onion and garlic give it depth. And taco seasoning and pickled jalapenos give it complexity, spice and classic Southwest flavor.
As you can see in the photos I like to serve it up in hard taco shells or taco bowls with fresh pico de gallo, avocado, cilantro, jalapenos and rice.
I’ve made the recipe as simple as I can. Just cook the teff grains, add all of your seasonings to the pot of cooked teff, crumble the teff taco meat onto a baking sheet and bake until crisp.
Walnut and quinoa taco meats can’t hold a candle to this recipe!
Vegetarian Teff Taco Meat
Cook time: 45 mins - ~ Makes: 3 3/4 cups taco meat (4-5 servings)
Notes: 1. It’s very important to set the teff grains aside covered for at least 10 minutes after cooking. The steam helps to lift any teff grains away from the sides of the pot and ensures the texture is just right.
1 cup uncooked brown teff grains + 3 cups water
4 tbsp taco seasoning (or use this DIY recipe)
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp olive oil + more to drizzle over top
1/3 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, minced finely
1/2 white onion, minced finely
Optional: 1 tbsp pickled Jalapenos + up to 2 more tbsp for spicier
1/4 tsp salt + 1/4 tsp pepper + more to taste
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Cook the teff grains: bring 3 cups water to a boil then add 1 cup teff grains, stirring to combine. Cover and cook over low heat for 15-20 mins, stirring frequently towards the end. Teff is done when tender and all water is absorbed. Once cooked, set aside covered for 10 mins (the ambient steam helps the teff to get a crumbly texture in the end). Result is ~3 cups cooked teff grains.
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Stir the seasonings directly into the pot of cooked teff grains: taco seasoning, nutritional yeast, 2 tbsp olive oil, sundried tomatoes, garlic, onion, jalapenos, salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar. Stir until well combined. Taste and adjust salt / pepper as you like.
Spread the teff taco “meat” over a large parchment (or silicon silpat) lined baking sheet. Crumble with your hands evenly, breaking up any big clumps. *If your dough is too wet to crumble you can spread it out like it’s a big cracker using a spatula — it works the same, the texture is just slightly different.*
Drizzle 2 tbsp olive oil over top as evenly as possible.
Bake on the center rack for 25 mins, using a spatula to flip the taco crumbles half way through baking.
Remove from the oven and serve hot — as tacos or in a taco bowl with rice, salsa, avocado or guacamole. Enjoy!
This post is sponsored by Maskal Teff Co. All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the sponsors that make this site possible!