Creamy butternut squash and sage speltotto

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Speltotto?!

Those of you who are fans of Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall will know that this is a risotto made with pearled spelt rather than arborio rice used in most regular risottos.

I’d never even contemplated using spelt until I stumbled upon it when using one of the River Cottage recipes. When I researched the health benefits of spelt, I realised that it is very high in protein which most vegetarians don’t get enough of in their diet. Spelt also has a low GI and therefore releases energy slowly. I decided that I would use it in all my risotto dishes from now on.

I bought the Sharpham Park brand of spelt, available from Waitrose and good health food shops. For more information on Sharpham Farm products, visit the website http://www.sharphampark.com/

I’d never made this risotto (speltotto) before and was making it up as I went along. Nevertheless, it turned out to be scrumptious and made enough for 3-4 portions.

INGREDIENTS
1/2 large butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and chopped into small chunks
2 tbs olive oil
1 onion finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
250g pearled spelt
A small knob of margarine
100ml dry white wine
800ml hot veg stock
A handful of fresh sage, chopped
1 1/2 tbs creme fraiche
A few sprinkles of grated veggie hard cheese (see earlier post)
Salt and black pepper for seasoning

METHOD
1) As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I really like my butternut squash soft so I boil it for around 8 mins, drain then set aside for later.
2) In the meantime, heat the oil in a large pan and sizzle the onion and garlic until golden.
3) On a medium heat, add the spelt and margarine, stirring until most of the oil has been absorbed.
4) Stir in the white wine until it has almost all been absorbed by the spelt.
5) Keep the hot stock in a pan on a very low heat and add a scoop to the speltotto.
6) Stir until the liquid has been absorbed and repeat this step for around 40 minutes or until the spelt is of your preferred texture.
7) As you stir in the stock, add a few sprinkles of sage at a time. Sage can have quite a strong flavour so keep tasting the speltotto until you’re happy with the strength of the flavour.
8) When almost all of your stock has been absorbed, add the soft butternut squash and stir in the creme fraiche.
9) Season with salt and pepper, remove from the heat and leave to stand for a couple of minutes.
10) Serve with some grated vegetarian hard cheese and a leaf of sage for garnishing.

I served this up with some warm crusty bread and will be eating the remainder for dinner tonight!

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