Crispy Teff Bruschetta Bites | Tomato cream cheese & pesto | Recipe Renovator
I wanted to create a fun new appetizer for the holiday party season that still fits the migraine diet. These crispy teff “bruschetta” bites are topped with a dollop tomato-and-oregano cream cheese and a mini-dollop of fresh pesto. They have the flavors of pizza and bruschetta, while being gluten-free and pretty healthy. Teff is a gluten-free grain from North Africa that cooks up like porridge, or can be ground into flour.

The base of these could have been made with polenta, but I have been eating a lot less corn. A while back I cooked up some whole grain teff, and it occurred to me that it might work as a polenta substitute. So I cooked it a little drier than usual, and spread it out in a pan to firm up. It worked! Then I dry-fried it in a non-stick pan to give it a crispy outside, while still being a little chewy inside. It makes the perfect little base for an appetizer with a neutral flavor, tasting a little bit like pumpernickel rye bread too. You could do cream cheese, dill, and smoked salmon on this base as well.

I blended room-temperature cream cheese (use mascarpone for a super-low-sodium version) with finely chopped cherry tomatoes, a little fresh oregano, and black pepper for the schmear. You could use vegan cream cheese (Tofutti or Daiya) for a vegan version, which is not migraine-friendly.

The pesto is made from toasted sunflower seeds (since nuts are not part of the migraine diet), fresh basil, white wine vinegar, and olive oil. You can make all the components a day ahead. Just make sure you cover the pesto with a thin layer of olive oil in the container so it doesn’t turn brown.

Suitable for:
low-sodium, migraine, gluten-free, reduced-sugar, vegan (with sub), and vegetarian diets

You might also like:

Bruschetta with warm tomatoes from Cooking Light
Low-carb zucchini bruschetta from Nancy at Skinny Kitchen
Mushroom bruschetta from Heather at Farm Girl Gourmet

Crispy Teff Bruschetta Bites | Tomato cream cheese & pesto | Recipe Renovator

Crispy teff bruschetta bites topped with tomato-cream cheese and pesto

4 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 1 hr 20 mins
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Servings 32 bites


Crispy teff squares

  • 3.5 ounces teff seeds (1/2 cup)

Tomato-oregano-cream-cheese schmear

  • 8 ounces cherry tomatoes (1 cup) half a dry pint
  • 4 ounces cream cheese (use vegan cream cheese like Daiya or Tofutti for non-dairy version)
  • 1 tbsp oregano leaves (fresh)
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper


  • 2 ounces sunflower seeds (1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves (fresh) loosely packed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (extra virgin)
  • 1/2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar (use white vinegar for migraine diet)


Crispy teff squares

  • Heat 1-1/2 cups (375 ml) filtered water to boiling in a medium saucepan.
  • Whisk in the teff, return to boiling, then turn down the heat so it is just barely boiling.
  • Cook for 18-20 minutes, stirring regularly, until the teff is very thick and pulls away from the sides of the pan.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone sheet. Spray or oil lightly with vegetable oil.
  • Use a spatula to spread the teff evenly, about 1/4 inch thick (6-7 mm). Even up the edges with the spatula. Let cool completely.
  • Cut into small squares.
  • Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium heat. Dry-fry the teff for 5 minutes on each side until crispy. Let cool, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Tomato-oregano-cream-cheese schmear

  • Wash the tomatoes, poke a hole in them, and squeeze out all the seeds and goo into the sink.
  • Finely chop the tomatoes in the food processor. (Make sure they are in small pieces or they will clog up your pastry bag. Place in a colander and press to remove liquid. Place a paper towel on top, and press down. Let sit for about 30 minutes until very dry.
  • Let cream cheese soften to room temperature.
  • Finely mince the oregano.
  • Use a spatula to blend the tomatoes, oregano, and black pepper into the cream cheese until evenly mixed.
  • Place the mixture in a zip-top bag or pastry bag with a large fluted tip. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.


  • Dry-toast the sunflower seeds over medium heat until golden brown, stirring or shaking every few minutes. Let cool.
  • Add the sunflower seeds to the clean, dry basil leaves, olive oil, and vinegar in a food processor. Process until pesto consistency, stopping to scrape down the sides. Put into an airtight container, and cover the top with a thin layer of olive oil to preserve the bright green color. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  • To assemble: Let the ingredients come to room temperature. Put the teff squares on a serving platter. Squeeze a dollop of cream cheese onto each square. (If using a zip-top bag, cut a small hole in one corner and squeeze through.) Add 1/4 tsp of pesto to the top of each. If you have it, top with a small fresh basil leaf (pictured).


Per bite:
  • 36 calories
  • 2 g fat
  • 1 g saturated fat
  • 1 g monounsaturated fat
  • 0 g polyunsaturated fat
  • 0 g trans fat
  • 4 g cholesterol
  • 12 mg sodium (made with regular cream cheese)
  • 24 mg potassium
  • 3 g carbohydrate
  • 0 g fiber
  • 0 g sugars
  • 1 g protein
  • 1 Weight Watchers Points Plus