Fonio patties, an ancient gluten free grain
What is this product that not even the Word spellcheck recognises as a term of the English language? It is an ancient gluten free grain that has been cultivated in Africa for over 5,000 years, yet only in 2018 the EFSA published its favourable opinion for the import and sale of this product, which is considered novel food as it has never before entered Europe.
It comes with such small grains that when I received the package to test and taste it, I thought I had been sent a flour!
Fonio is in some ways similar to millet, with an even milder flavour, but less sweet. From a nutritional point of view, it is a small marvel as it is rich in micronutrients, particularly iron and zinc, as well as essential amino acids not found in other cereals or pseudocereals. Its carbohydrate content is 74.4g per 100g of product, so very similar to other cereals, but it has a lower glycaemic index due to the presence of fibre and the absence of simple sugars, making it a valuable ally of ours.
The other element of great interest is the fact that this food grows on arid land with very little need for water, making it ideal for a world in which desertification and water scarcity are becoming increasingly urgent. I have to admit that I also like the idea of adding a new and environmentally sustainable member to the gluten free cereal family.
Fonio in the kitchen
On a purely gastronomic level, my surprise and satisfaction was mildness. These patties are an irresistible finger food and the almost ‘neutral’ taste of fonio, which can be somewhat compared to the ‘neutral’ taste of wheat, makes it suitable for so many preparations: in addition to crackers in which fonio has passed the test with flying colours, my next experiments will be bread and cakes, so I will keep you updated!
While waiting for it to be distributed in the various channels, those of you who want to learn more, taste and experience it, it will soon be on sale directly from the website of Obà Food.
While waiting to try fonio, you can replace it with millet when preparing these patties. Or try my Couscous patties.
Happy experimentation and bon appetit!
18.82g carbohydrates per 100g
- 300g previously prepared vegetable stock
- 100g fonio grains*
- 100g Delica pumpkin, peeled and with seeds removed
- 60g ricotta cheese
- 50g Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
- 50g extra virgin olive oil
- 50 g breadcrumbs**
- 40g leek
- 30g sesame seeds
- 1 egg
- salt and pepper
Ingredients for serving Fonio patties
sauces* as desired
**Ingredients specific for celiacs
*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten free” (or, in Italy, present on Prontuario AIC)
- In a saucepan, sauté the finely chopped leek in a little extra virgin olive oil; as soon as it has browned, add the diced pumpkin, then a ladle of stock and cook over a low flame. When the pumpkin is cooked, mash it with a wooden spoon, then add the remaining stock and throw in the Fonio grains. Let it cook for 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool down.
- Once cold, add the egg, ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese and sesame and mix well; season with salt and pepper, then place in the fridge to cool and firm up for 2 hours (in case you don’t have time, skip the fridge step, but it will be a little more difficult to form the patties because the mixture will be softer; if it is too soft, add a bit of breadcrumbs). Form patties of the desired size: I made patties about 4 cm in diameter. Roll them on a dish containing some extra virgin olive oil, then in a second dish with breadcrumbs so that this adheres well to the surface of the patties.
- Place the patties on a baking tin covered with greaseproof paper, drizzle with a little oil and bake in a convection oven preheated to 200°C for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.
- Serve the meatballs with sauces to taste, I served them with a mustard flavoured sauce.
Version with gluten of Fonio patties
Replace the gluten free breadcrumbs with conventional breadcrumbs.