Recipe of the week……………….spelt.

Mushroom spelt risotto with melted camembert

Spelt is one of the world’s oldest wheat grain varieties. It is great as an alternative to rice in a risotto as it retains a wonderfully crunchy texture and unlike rice, you can add the stock all at once and let the risotto simmer away on the stove – making it low maintenance as well as delicious.

Spelt and Mushroom risotto 2

Serves: 4

300 g spelt grains

15 g dried porcini

150 ml boiling water

100 g butter

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tbs chopped fresh thyme

500 g mixed mushrooms, wiped clean and chopped

150 ml red wine

1 litre chicken or vegetable stock

50 g Parmesan, grated

150 g Camembert, sliced

salt and pepper

freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

Soak the spelt grains in boiling water for 20 minutes. Soak the porcini in the boiling water for 15 minutes. Drain spelt and shake dry. Drain and chop the mushrooms, reserve the liquid.

Melt half the butter in a saucepan and gently fry the onion, garlic and half the thyme over a low heat for 10 minutes until soft but not browned. Add the mushrooms and porcini and stir-fry until starting to soften. Add the spelt and stir for 1 minute then pour in the wine and boil until it is all but absorbed.

Meanwhile bring the stock and reserved porcini liquid to the boil in a separate pan. Add 750 ml to the risotto and cook gently over a low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the stock is almost absorbed and the spelt, tender. Add a little more stock if needed (any left over stock can be reserved, chilled in the fridge for up to 3 days).

Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the Parmesan and half the Camembert, cover and leave to melt for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter in a small frying pan and add the remaining thyme leaves. Cook gently over a low heat for 2-3 minutes until the butter turns a golden brown. Serve the risotto topped with the remaining camembert and drizzled with the thyme butter.

Tip: Spelt is available from larger supermarkets as well as health food stores.


A right falafel

Falafels are little nuggets of pulses, herbs and spices served as street food in Middle Eastern and North African countries. They are cooked and served in flat bread wraps with salad and tahini dressing. Traditionally they are made with chickpeas but here I have made two versions, firstly replacing the chickpeas with bulghar wheat to make a homemade falafel, whilst the second recipe not only returns to the classic chickpea falafel but uses a ready made falafel mix available from supermarkets and specialist food stores – making a really quick and simple mid-week supper dish.

Bulghar wheat falafel with courgette and haloumi salad 

 This recipe can be served as either a salad or as a wrap, it’s up to you – both a equally yummy.Bulghar falafel serve

Serves: 4

250 g bulghar wheat

1 bunch spring onions

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 bunch coriander leaves (about 30g)

1 tsp ras al hanout*

1 tbs chickpea* or rice flour

1 tbs tahini paste

juice 1 lemon

200 g baby courgettes

1 small cucumber

haloumi, thinly sliced

a handful rocket leaves

a few fennel or edible flowers (optional)

Preserved lemon yogurt

1 tbs finely chopped preserved lemon

150 g Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon clear honey

1 tbs chopped fresh coriander

salt and pepper

vegetable oil for shallow frying

flat breads, to serve

Pour boiling water over the bulghar wheat and leave to soak for 30 minutes. Drain thoroughly and place in a food processor. Add the onions, garlic, coriander, ras al haout, chickpea flour, tahini paste, 1 teaspoon salt and a little pepper and blend to form a smooth green paste. Shape into 32 oval patties and set aside. 

Make the preserved lemon yogurt dressing. Place the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and speckled green. Very thinly slice the courgettes and cucumber (using a mandolin or potato peeler). Place in a bowl and add the rocket and a coriander leaves.

Heat 5 cm oil in a wok or saucepan and fry the falafel for 5 minutes until evenly browned, turning halfway through. Drain well on kitchen paper. Arrange the salad on a platter and top with the falafel. Serve with the yogurt dip, edible flowers if using and some flat bread.

* Ras al hanout is a Middle Eastern spice mix available from some supermarkets or specialist food stores. Chickpea flour is also known as gram flour and is also available from most larger supermarkets or specialist food shops.

Couscous salad with falafel and hummus sauce

Couscous and falafel 1

Serves: 4

150 g couscous

3 tbs extra virgin olive oil

3 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped

1 bunch roughly chopped fresh mint

1 bunch roughly chopped fresh parsley

2 tbs lemon juice

225 g packet ready-made falafel *

125 g Greek yoghurt

100 g hummus

1 teaspoon toasted cumin seeds

a pinch hot smoked paprika

4 pieces flatbread or pitta pockets, to serve

Place the couscous and 1 tablespoon oil in a heatproof bowl. Add 150 ml boiling water, cover and leave to stand for 5 minutes until the couscous grains are softened. Stir with a fork to separate the grains and then stir in the tomatoes, herbs, lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil. Set aside.

Heat the falafel following packet directions. Meanwhile, combine the yogurt, hummus and half the cumin seeds in a serving dish and drizzle with the remaining oil, cumin seeds and paprika. Serve the hot falafel with the couscous salad, yogurt hummus and flatbread.

Both these recipes were first published by Grazia UK. Photographed by Ian Wallace