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Kale speltotto with goat’s cheese

This is very similar to a risotto, but based on nutty grains of pearled spelt, rather than rice. This lovely wintery dish has appeared on the menu in the River Cottage Kitchen from time to time. It is delicious finished with Quickes hard goat’s cheese – but any tasty, goat’s cheese would be good.


Heat the stock in a saucepan and keep it at a low simmer over a very low heat.

Heat about half the butter and 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and thyme and sweat gently for about 10 minutes, until the onion is soft.

In the meantime, cut the leeks on the diagonal into 2cm thick slices. Remove the tough stems from the kale or greens and shred the leaves. Stir the spelt (or barley) through the softened onions and cook gently for a minute or two. Add the wine and let it bubble until all the liquid is absorbed.

Now 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 (or a bit longer for barley) to cook to a tender texture with a hint of bite still in the grains.

While the spelt (or barley) is cooking, sweat the leeks in the remaining oil and butter in a small frying pan over a medium heat, tossing and stirring occasionally, until tender, but retaining a slight bite. Lightly steam the kale or greens, or wilt in a saucepan with a little water, for 3–4 minutes, until just tender. Drain if necessary.

Take the finished speltotto off the heat and stir through the leeks, kale or greens and grated cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with extra cheese, a grinding of black pepper and a final trickle of oil.

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  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 50g butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive or rapeseed oil, plus a trickle to finish
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • A few sprigs of thyme, leaves only, chopped
  • 2–3 medium leeks, trimmed and washed
  • About 150g kale or spring greens
  • 300g pearled spelt (or pearl barley)
  • 125ml dry white wine
  • 50g hard goat’s cheese, or other well-flavoured hard cheese, grated, plus extra to serve
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

This recipe is taken from...

River Cottage Veg Every Day!