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Saffron speltotto with roasted cherry tomatoes
Saffron speltotto with roasted cherry tomatoes
added by River Cottage Veg Every Day!

This is a great recipe taken from the River Cottage Veg TV series. You will also find some excellent variations in Hugh's River Cottage Every Day Veg! cookbook. River Cottage Veg Every Day! available here: only 11.99. Join the gang at the River Cottage Cookery School

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Prep time
  • 20 mins
Cook Time
  • 35 mins - 8 hours
  • 4
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 20g butter
  • 2 tablespoons rapeseed or olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 pinches of saffron
  • 300g pearled spelt
  • A good handful of parsley, finely chopped
  • 50g Parmesan or hard goat’s cheese, grated, plus extra to serve
  • A few gratings of nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1kg fairly large tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • A few sprigs of thyme, broken up
  • 3 bay leaves, each snipped into 2 or 3 pieces
  • 2–3 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for storage
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
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Halve the tomatoes, or quarter particularly large ones. Scoop out and discard the seeds, if you prefer. Stand a wire rack over a double sheet of newspaper.

Combine the sugar with a teaspoon fine salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle a tiny pinch of this mixture over the inside of each tomato half, then put the tomatoes upside down on the rack. Leave for 1 hour for the juices to drip.

Preheat the oven to very low, about 100C/Gas Mark �. Transfer the tomatoes, turning them cut side up, to a large baking tray. Scatter with the thyme and bay, some black pepper and the olive oil. Place in the oven for 4–5 hours, until the tomatoes are semi-dried: i.e. considerably reduced but still quite tender and plump. This is how I like them. However, you can leave them in the oven for 7–8 hours if you prefer – to become much more like commercial ‘sun-dried’ tomatoes.


To make the speltotto bring the stock to a low simmer in a small pan and keep over a very low heat.

Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat. Add the onions and sweat gently, stirring, for about 10 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and stir for a couple of minutes.

Add the spelt to the pan and stir for a couple of minutes, making sure all the grains are well coated with butter and oil.

Add the saffron and start adding the stock, about a quarter at a time, as you would for a risotto, stirring often and letting each addition be absorbed before you add the next. It should take about 25 minutes for the spelt to cook to a tender texture with a hint of bite still in the grains. By this time the swede will be completely tender too.

Stir in the chopped parsley and grated cheese. Add salt, plenty of black pepper and a few gratings of nutmeg. Serve, topped with more grated cheese.

1 reply
Replied on

I have the swede version from the River Cottage Every Day Veg book on the stove. I can see there is far too much for 2 people. Can it be re heated?

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