Spelt is a fantastic alternative to rice; it has a slightly nutty flavour and is very easily digested. I also find it gives a warming and heartier feel to many dishes. Not only is spelt perfect for people who have difficulty digesting gluten but it’s also extremely versatile. I have chosen to make a wintery risotto, but spelt can also be used in biscuits and breads, and is also a great supplement to salads.

Spelt risotto, sprouting broccoli and parmesan crisp

Serves 4


  • 200g pearled spelt
  • 1l vegetable stock or water
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 100g grated Parmesan
  • ½ a cup of white wine (optional)
  • 1 finely diced white onion
  • 200g sprouting broccoli
  • 200g ceps (or any other mushroom that takes your fancy)
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 1 sliced spring onion


  1. Heat a tbsp. olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until softened and just beginning to colour.
  2. Gradually add the spelt to the pan and stir well for 1 minute.
  3. Once the grains have absorbed all the humidity in the saucepan, deglaze with white wine and reduce the heat. Again, you must stir gently until all the alcohol has evaporated before adding more liquid.

When making risotto it is very important you keep your stock simmering at all times, otherwise you may interrupt the cooking process.

  1. Add your first ladle of stock to the saucepan and stir gently.
  2. Let the spelt absorb the stock before adding the next ladle. This slow method keeps the grain firm and concentrates the flavour of the dish.
  3. Repeat this process until the spelt is “al dente”; cooked, yet still with a little bite. This should take about 40 to 45 minutes.
  4. When you feel the spelt has achieved the right texture briskly stir in the butter and parmesan. You should obtain a perfectly glossy finish.
  5. Rinse and half the sprouting broccoli before blanching in salted water for a couple of minutes. Strain and leave to one side.
  6. If necessary, cut the mushrooms to a similar size.
  7. In a large frying pan, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over a medium to high heat.
  8. Add the mushrooms together with the garlic clove and toss them around so that they cook evenly.
  9. After 2 minutes, when the mushrooms have lightly browned add the sprouting broccoli to the pan and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  10. Sprinkle the spring onions all over the plate before devouring.

Matching Wines

When pairing a delicate risotto, it is important to choose a wine that isn’t too overpowering in order to respect the beautiful creaminess of the dish. I suggest a Domaine Coudoulet 2014, which is a young Syrah from the Languedoc Roussillon region. This affordable red wine is a perfect match for this flavoursome vegetarian dish.

On a lighter note, I think an herbaceous Chardonnay from Oliver Merlin would work wonders with this earthy dish. The Macon La Roche-Vineuse 2013 is a clean and dry white wine that is extremely good value for money.

If you really want to treat yourself, I recommend you try a 2012 Maranges, Le croix Moines 1er Cru from Camille Giroud. This weighty red wine has the perfect balance of tannins and fruit to sublimate this simple and moreish recipe.

Wines to drink with spelt risotto, sprouting broccoli and parmesan crisp by Michel Roux Jr

Domaine Coudoulet, Vins de Pays d’Oc 2014 – A beautiful example of a Syrah, this rounded red is unctuous with full, black fruits and a certain pepperiness which balances well with the creaminess of the risotto. RRP: £10.75 Berry Bros & Rudd

Domaine Olivier Merlin, Mâcon-La Roche Vineuse, Vieilles Vignes 2013 – Crisp and refreshing, this lovely white has beautifully subtle notes of strawberry balanced with a herbacious perfume.  The slight sweetness from the red fruit notes is balanced with an overall dryness which makes it a perfect match for the velvety risotto.
RRP : £18.95 Berry Bros and Rudd

Maranges, Le Croix Moines, 1er Cru, Camille Giroud 2012 – A great favourite, this red is deep with earthy and fruit flavours. Beautifully balanced it is a great partner to this hearty and warming dish and will absolutely help to put those winter chills to bed.
RRP: £29.95 from Berry Bros and Rudd