Minted Pea & Asparagus Speltotto
Dear Asparagus Season,
Please don’t leave me. I promise to continue to appreciate you even if you stick around a little longer.
Your Asparagus Loving Friend,
Let’s wave a very tearful goodbye to our British asparagus season with another version of my veggie-packed spelt risottos. I just can’t seem to get enough of making these vegan speltottos because they really have it all - they are absolutely delicious and brimming with fresh seasonal veggies (six to be exact). They are full of plant-based protein and provide over a half of my daily fibre requirements. Not to mention, one portion also provides 61% and 37% of my daily Vitamin A and Iron requirements respectively.
Fibre is somewhat of an unsung hero in our bodies. I suppose it’s not exactly the sexiest of topics, but it is incredibly important, and in the UK most people do not even eat half of the recommended amount of fibre (24g per day).
A quick rundown on fibre’s superpowers:
· It helps makes you feel full for longer.
· It actually binds to cholesterol in the gut preventing absorption, which can reduce blood cholesterol levels.
· It feeds the good bacteria in our gut.
· It works like a brush, scraping off old cells and debris from our gut and promotes bowel movements.
If you aren’t vegan or vegetarian, this speltotto provides a wonderful bed for a piece of grilled fish. Seabass or salmon work particularly well, simply prepared with some lemon, herbs and olive oil. I also highly recommend substituting the vegetable stock for bone broth instead. It adds a real richness to the flavour, is full of minerals that support the immune system and contains gut healing compounds that can reduce intestinal inflammation.
CHEATS TIP — You can buy pre-cooked sachets of Spelt to use which turns this into a super quick last minute meal. The risotto is also great for batch cooking as it freezes very well. So much so, that we took a frozen batch with us on a recent camping trip and got many an envious look from fellow campers as they were tucking into their 4th can of baked beans!
· 2 tsp Olive Oil
· 3 Garlic Cloves
· 150g Leeks
· 150g Onion
· 150ml Dry White Wine
· 600ml Vegetable Stock (or Bone Broth)
· 200g Frozen Peas
· 200g Asparagus
· 100g Spinach Leaves
· 100g Frozen Broad Beans
· 250g Spelt (Uncooked)
· Salt & Fresh Pepper to taste.
· A generous handful of fresh Mint
· Zest of 1 lemon
· 1 tbsp dried herbs of your choice (sage, chives, dill, rosemary or thyme all work nicely here)
· Optional – 40g grated Parmesan or some crumbled Goats Cheese.
· Weigh the spelt and rinse thoroughly.
· Finely chop the onion and leek.
· Peel and mince the garlic.
· Chop the asparagus into 1-2cm chunks, discarding the woody ends.
· Heat the oil in a wide based pan, add the onion and leek, and cook over a medium heat until soft but not brown.
· Add the garlic and stir occasionally for a minute.
· Add the spelt until it is frying and starting to colour lightly.
· Pour in the wine and continue to cook for 1-2 more minutes.
· Add the dried herbs and pour in ½ of the bone broth or vegetable stock and cook for 10 minutes.
· Continue adding broth/stock one ladle at a time until the spelt is tender and most of the liquid has absorbed.
· While the spelt is cooking, in a frying pan, sauté the asparagus in a little oil for 5 minutes until starting to brown. Set aside. (I do this because cooking them in the risotto tends to make them much mushier and I like my vegetables to still have a little texture to them.)
· Boil the frozen peas and broad beans for 3-5 minutes, drain and set aside.
· In a blender, add the spinach, lemon zest, fresh mint and approximately ½ of the cooked broad beans and peas. Blitz until it is a smooth puree.
· Once the spelt is soft and the water has been absorbed, stir in all of the puree, the sautéed asparagus, the remaining cooked peas and broad beans (and the grated parmesan if using), and season with salt and pepper.
Calories – 381
Fat – 5g
Carbohydrates – 70g
Protein – 17g
Fibre – 14g
Vitamin C – 38%
Vitamin A – 61%
Calcium – 12%
Iron – 37%