A risotto is an easy and somewhat satisfying dish to make. Inexpensive and versatile, adaptable according to season and a great way to use up leftover veg. Here I have chosen one of my favourite cupboard staples, spelt, to be the base of my canvas. Its a deliciously nutty grain, with more flavour than the typical risotto rice and a more robust texture.
Although I have named this dish a risotto, it is in fact more of a warm salad. Herbs and the fresh crunch of spring onions are essential in a dish that is brought together with a mild-tasting grain, like spelt or rice. They add not only freshness and taste but also colour. A generous handful or two might seem a lot but it is quickly mellowed with the remaining ingredients.
The other components that bring together this wonderful dish are the roasted cubes of soft sweet potato, sage, spring onions and toasted walnuts. Each adds serves a specific purpose here. The sweet potato, naturally, adds sweetness. The walnuts add a toasty smokiness and crunch, the spring onions bring a fresh note and the sage adds a real depth of flavour.
Sweet Potato and Sage Spelt Risotto Recipe
If you aren’t a fan of sweet potato, another option is cooked beetroot, swapping the sage leaves for thyme and the parmesan for goats cheese.
- 2 sweet potatoes (700g approx)
- 4 tbsp rapeseed oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 400g spelt
- 2 sprigs of fresh sage, roughly chopped
- 1 litre chicken, or vegetable stock
- 50g walnuts, roughly chopped
- 4-6 spring onions, finely chopped
- 75g dried apricots, roughly chopped
- Juice of ½ lemon
- a handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- 50g hard cheese, I used parmesan
Preheat your oven to 200°C. Cut the sweet potato into small chunks. Toss the cubes in the rapeseed oil and season, spread onto a baking tray in a single layer, then put in the oven. Cook for 20-25 minutes until golden, turning them halfway through.
Roughly chop the garlic and add to a large pan on a medium to high heat with the oil. Fry for a couple of minutes until the garlic begins to caramelise. Then add the spelt and the fresh sage to the pan and coat in the oil. Add the chicken stock to the pan. Keep the pan on a high heat, bring to the boil then reduce the heat to a simmer for about half an hour.
Whilst the sweet potato and spelt is cooking, place the walnuts on another baking tray and place them in the oven until golden. This should take five to ten minutes.
Once the spelt is cooked add the spring onions, apricots, sweet potato and walnuts and toss through. Keep on a low heat to evaporate any excess moisture. Taste and season with lemon juice and fresh parsley (leaving some fresh parsley and walnuts to add as a garnish on top, when serving).
Serve with shavings of parmesan cheese and a scattering of fresh, chopped parsley leaves and walnuts.
For more information about the goodness of this and many other great whole grains, take a look here