Spelt in my opinion is one of the most under-used and underrated grains in the United States. 9 times out of 10 when I’ve made this dish, I’ve served it to folks who’ve never had spelt, and probably never even heard of it. Spelt looks kind of like brown rice’s short and chubby cousin. In fact the first time I saw it, I thought is was barley or a wheat grass seed.
Part of the reason why spelt is somewhat uncommon is because the processing of this grain is difficult as a result of its tough husk. Other grains such as rice are not that difficult to process so that is why they’re more readily available. Having said this, I believe the processing is totally worth the trouble as it has significantly more protein than wheat or rice, and tons of fiber. It’s also a lot higher in b-complex vitamins. Those with gluten sensitivities should be able to eat this without any problems too as it is more easily assimilated by the body and much lower in gluten than wheat.
Below is a recipe for Spelt Grain and Wild Rice Pilaf:
1 1/2 cup spelt grain
1/2 cup wild rice
6 cups chicken stock
1 small red onion
2 ribs celery
3 garlic cloves
1 packet organic veggie soup mix (use one with no MSG)
2 tbsp. good extra virgin olive oil
1 cup fresh chopped parsley
Sea salt to taste
The first thing you do is wash and drain the spelt grain and wild rice. Keep them separate though since the spelt needs more cooking time than the wild rice. After they’re drained well, add the chicken stock to a pressure cooker reserving 2 cups for later. You can make this dish if you don’t own a pressure cooker, but it will just take a lot longer. Cook the spelt on Med. heat in the pressure cooker- you should hear the steam engine sound coming from the pot. If you’re cooking it in a regular pot, bring the stock to a boil and after about 5 minutes of cooking on high heat, cover the pot with a lid and bring the heat down to low.
Cooking spelt is a lot like cooking brown rice except it needs a little more time to cook. You’ll have an “al dente” kind of bite to this grain as it never really gets as tender as rice. It’s a lot chewier that rice is, but in a good way.
While the spelt is cooking, finely dice your carrots, celery, onion, and garlic. Next you’ll start working with the leeks- Make sure to wash the leeks really well because they accumulate dirt and sand in the crevices of the stalks. After washing it well, begin to slice into small pieces. I slice in rounds and then chop the rounds up a bit. Add some olive oil and add the carrots and celery. These will take longer to cook than the other veggies. After cooking for about 5 minutes, add the rest of the veggies to the pan.
Next check on your spelt. It should be looking pretty good right about now. Carefully remove the pot from the heat and allow the pressure to decompress by running cold water over the lid. Don’t open the pot until the pressure latch has lifted. Give the spelt a stir and add the wild rice and veggie soup mix. Continue to cook for about 15 minutes. After it’s done cooking remove from the heat. All of the liquid might not have evaporated, but that’s OK as long as the spelt and wild rice is cooked through. Drain the spelt and wild rice, reserving some of the cooking liquid.
Next take a deep pan and drizzle with olive oil. Turn the heat to med. high and allow the pan to get hot. Add the spelt and wild rice mix and begin to saute, mixing often. After sauteing for about 10 minutes, add the veggies and combine well. Next take the juice of a lemon and squeeze into this mix. Combine well and serve on a nice serving dish. Top with your roughly chopped parsley- be liberal with this, it adds great color and flavor!