Toasted Spelt Berry and Squash Risotto

By May 18, 2015

This key to this simple weeknight meal is using a really tasty, homemade stock. Vegetable stock is great, and if you're an omnivore, chicken stock is wonderful too. This recipe works the best if the spelt berries are either soaked overnight or up to 6 hours first, or par-cooked before adding in.

 2 cups spelt berries
 2 tablespoons oil
 1 large onion, diced
 Appx 1 quart chicken stock (or veggie stock for vegetarian/vegan prep)
 1/4 cup butter (omit for vegan prep)
 1 large acorn squash or medium butternut squash
 1 bunch kale or similar greens
Step 1: Toast the Spelt Berries.
1

In a large bowl, toss the spelt berries with approximately 2 tablespoons of oil. They will appear shiny. Place them on a sheet tray in the oven at 400 degrees for approximately 20 minutes (stirring once in the middle). They will darken and appear toasted.

Step 2: Bring it together.
2

In a heavy bottomed pan (I prefer a 12 inch deep-walled cast iron skillet), add a tablespoon of oil or butter to the hot pan. Add your onions and sauté until just a little color is noticeable on the onions. Add the toasted spelt berries and stir. Add enough chicken stock to just cover the spelt berries.

3

Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Occasionally stir. As the liquid is absorbed or evaporated off, add more chicken stock, a cup at a time, until the spelt berries are mostly cooked but still a little firm. Probably about 1.5 to 2 hours. I've made this recipe in different sizes each time so the timing tends to vary.

4

When the spelt berries reach their desired done-ness, continue cooking and stirring to evaporate most of the liquid. The bottom will still be a little soupy. That's fine.

Step 3: Roast the squash
5

While the spelt berries are cooking, split an acorn squash or butternut squash in half. Scoop out the seeds and add a hefty scoop of butter into the seed cavity. Place on a sheet tray with the open side up. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees until the squash are soft. Depending on the size of the squash, this could be as short as 30 minutes or up to an hour. Remove the squash and allow it to cool.

Step 4: Wash some greens.
6

Remove the thick center rib of the greens and tear the greens into smaller portions. At this point, you can either use the greens raw or do a quick sautéed greens. I tend to sauté them to bring out the bright green colors.

7

In a covered pan on medium high heat, sauté the greens with some oil, apple cider vinegar (a tablespoon-ish), a pinch of salt, and a splash of maple syrup. Cook until slightly tender.

8

When the squash have cooled, scoop out the flesh and the butter and pour it into a blender. Add enough water to get it spinning and puree the flesh. The flesh should be very smooth and slightly runny, like the consistency of apple sauce.

Last Step: Add the Squash, Spelt Berries and Greens all together.
9

Pour the squash puree into the cooked spelt berries. Stir and bring the heat up to start a simmer again. Cook until the mixture is thick and not soupy. You may not need all the squash puree. You'll have to make a judgement of your own.

10

Finally, season with salt and stir in the greens. Serve hot.

Ingredients

 2 cups spelt berries
 2 tablespoons oil
 1 large onion, diced
 Appx 1 quart chicken stock (or veggie stock for vegetarian/vegan prep)
 1/4 cup butter (omit for vegan prep)
 1 large acorn squash or medium butternut squash
 1 bunch kale or similar greens

Directions

Step 1: Toast the Spelt Berries.
1

In a large bowl, toss the spelt berries with approximately 2 tablespoons of oil. They will appear shiny. Place them on a sheet tray in the oven at 400 degrees for approximately 20 minutes (stirring once in the middle). They will darken and appear toasted.

Step 2: Bring it together.
2

In a heavy bottomed pan (I prefer a 12 inch deep-walled cast iron skillet), add a tablespoon of oil or butter to the hot pan. Add your onions and sauté until just a little color is noticeable on the onions. Add the toasted spelt berries and stir. Add enough chicken stock to just cover the spelt berries.

3

Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Occasionally stir. As the liquid is absorbed or evaporated off, add more chicken stock, a cup at a time, until the spelt berries are mostly cooked but still a little firm. Probably about 1.5 to 2 hours. I've made this recipe in different sizes each time so the timing tends to vary.

4

When the spelt berries reach their desired done-ness, continue cooking and stirring to evaporate most of the liquid. The bottom will still be a little soupy. That's fine.

Step 3: Roast the squash
5

While the spelt berries are cooking, split an acorn squash or butternut squash in half. Scoop out the seeds and add a hefty scoop of butter into the seed cavity. Place on a sheet tray with the open side up. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees until the squash are soft. Depending on the size of the squash, this could be as short as 30 minutes or up to an hour. Remove the squash and allow it to cool.

Step 4: Wash some greens.
6

Remove the thick center rib of the greens and tear the greens into smaller portions. At this point, you can either use the greens raw or do a quick sautéed greens. I tend to sauté them to bring out the bright green colors.

7

In a covered pan on medium high heat, sauté the greens with some oil, apple cider vinegar (a tablespoon-ish), a pinch of salt, and a splash of maple syrup. Cook until slightly tender.

8

When the squash have cooled, scoop out the flesh and the butter and pour it into a blender. Add enough water to get it spinning and puree the flesh. The flesh should be very smooth and slightly runny, like the consistency of apple sauce.

Last Step: Add the Squash, Spelt Berries and Greens all together.
9

Pour the squash puree into the cooked spelt berries. Stir and bring the heat up to start a simmer again. Cook until the mixture is thick and not soupy. You may not need all the squash puree. You'll have to make a judgement of your own.

10

Finally, season with salt and stir in the greens. Serve hot.

Toasted Spelt Berry and Squash Risotto

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