I was introduced to the idea of Spelt and Speltotto thanks to my recent Flavr Box review. I decided this new-to-me-food was worth a post all of its own because everyone else I’ve spoken to about it hadn’t heard of it either.
Spelt is a gluten-grain with a rich nutty flavor that can be used in place of wheat in most baking recipes, including bread and pizza crusts. The people at Sharpham Park use it in pearl form to give us a meal accompaniment that can be used instead of rice, pasta, couscous or lentils.
High in protein content, which is essential for body maintenance and muscle growth, it also contains all eight essential amino acids. With its low GI, it produces only small fluctuations in our blood sugar levels, and therefore can reduce the risk of heart disease and diabetes. It is a key to long term health and assists sustainable weight loss as you feel fuller for longer. It also contains carbohydrates and is a good source of fibre, is easily digested due to the high water solubility. Oh, and it tastes good too!
Sounds good doesn’t it?!
“Speltotto” is a term coined by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall when he created a risotto like dish using Sharpham Park pearled spelt. These boxes are meals in themselves, containing pearled spelt and dried vegetables and herbs. I tried two versions – the sundried tomato and chilli and the courgette, garlic and thyme. Both looked something like the above photo, all dry but fairly colourful. A box will serve two for a main meal or four as an accompaniment and the shelf life is nice and long.
They are so simple to prepare. Actually “prepare” is a bad choice of word because you undo the packet, pour it into a pan, and add cold water. You don’t even need to boil the kettle! You then bring it to the boil, simmer for 15 minutes, add a knob of butter, and serve. So easy, and at 20-25 minutes cooking time it makes a very easy mid-week meal.
The spelt really soaks up the water over the cooking time and fluffs up into something that really does resemble risotto. The addition of butter right at the end before serving brings out the flavours and adds a creaminess to the dish – you could substitute olive oil for a healthier alternative but it’s not very much butter and you can’t beat that flavour really.
As for the taste, well, I was really impressed. Both versions we tried were full of flavour. I think we probably have portion control issues though as we weren’t full after eating the courgette one so when I did the tomato and chilli one I also did a garlic baguette to go with it. The chilli one did have a kick which was really pleasant and of the two I think that was our favourite.