Pearled Spelt Risotto

PEARLED SPELT RISOTTO with watercress & lemon

There is a certain thrill to discovering fresh watercress swimming in docile English rivers, gesturing the beginning of spring. It is so green, peppery and robust that it can stand out by itself. Here, we have a simple spelt risotto in which the watercress is the star of the show. I’d eat it with a chunky wedge of garlic bread.

prep time 10 minutes cook time 30 minutes

serves 4

25g butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
200g pearled spelt (alternatively, use risotto rice)
125ml dry white wine
1 litre hot vegetable stock
75g bunch of watercress, washed and roughly chopped
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
50g Parmesan, grated
A few rounds of goat’s cheese, to serve
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Heat half of the butter and all the oil in a large pan. Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until softened. Add the pearled spelt (or risotto rice) and stir for 1 minute until the grains are coated in the buttery oil.

2 Pour in the wine and simmer over a high heat until nearly all has evaporated. A word of warning: there are times for drinking alcohol, but not within a risotto – take the time to allow the alcohol to evaporate.

3 Reduce the heat to gentle and begin to add the hot stock, a ladleful at a time, letting each ladleful be absorbed before adding the next. Keep adding the stock and stirring constantly until all of the liquid has been absorbed. This will take 18–20 minutes.

4 Remove the risotto from the heat and add the remaining butter, the chopped watercress, lemon zest and juice and the Parmesan. Stir until the watercress has just wilted, check for seasoning, and then serve with a round or two of goat’s cheese resting on top.

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