The ancient grain Spelt has been grown in the Uk since the Iron Age. It is an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, complete protein and fibre. The Roman army named it their ‘marching grain’ as it’s a good source of slow releasing energy. It’s also a very good source of B vitamins and minerals. Spelt contains a more ‘fragile’ form of gluten molecule which is more easily digested than the one found in wheat. Pearled spelt is produced by bouncing it over rotating stones to remove the outer layer of bran and “pearl“ the grain. This means that during cooking it soaks up all the flavours of your dish and it makes the most amazing risottos, soups and salads.
For this recipe you can substitute pearled spelt (or barley), a wheat berry found in most supermarkets, for the more common short-grain rice to give the risotto a nutty flavor and a toothsome bite.
Place the beetroot juice into a separate saucepan and on a low heat, slowly reduce until ½ the volume. Set aside.
Peel the beetroot and cut into a very fine dice. Set aside.
Heat the 2 tbsp of the oil in a wide based pan, add the chopped onion and cook over a gentle heat until soft but not brown. Add the Spelt (grain) to the soften onion and cook for 2 minutes, stirring.
Add the cubed beetroot, Madeira and white wine to the Spelt and cook until the liquid has reduced by ¾.
Pour in half of the warmed stock and cook for 10 minutes. Continue adding stock, one ladle at a time until the Spelt is tender and most of the liquid has absorbed. Add more stock if the grains are not soft enough.
Add the reduced beetroot juice and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.
Stir in the grated parmesan and horseradish and leave to rest for 3 minutes. Enjoy!
The recipe is a perfect as a meal on its own but here are some serving suggestions:
• Grated fennel and dill salad in mustard/horseradish vinaigrette
• Crumbled goats cheese
• Grilled dill salmon