Tuesday, 23 April 2013

No, I Haven't Spelt it Wrong!

Agnello Trittato con Finocchio e Spelta alla Menta
Exotic Ground Lamb & Spelt with Fennel & Mint

I love grains of all sorts, but believe it or not- I had never cooked with Spelt until this evening! Shame on me! And shame on you too if you haven't tried it either... it is SO delicious! I picked up a box whilst shopping on Saturday, "just so", thinking I would give it a try at some point or other, but not having any particular plan in mind...

...until this evening that is! I had a little ground lamb there- not much more than a decent handful really and I was planning on making a burger out of it- just something quick and simple. But the work day had been a pain and I needed to work off a little stress in the kitchen- as well as feeling like I deserved a little more than just a boring burger for supper. And so, before I knew what was going on, I found myself improvising this exciting and exotic little meal right here...

This dish was as usual, a lot easier to make than you may think- and probably a lot quicker too! I started off by boiling 2 cups of spelt in 4 cups of water- just as you would cook rice- boiling for 10 minutes and then turning off the burner and allowing it to rest, swell-up and continue cooking in the residual heat of the saucepan and the stove top for a further 10 minutes. 

In the meantime, I began browning the ground lamb in a non-stick frying pan, along with some fennel slices, fennel seed, chopped onion and garlic and a little grated ginger. I kept the heat relatively high and stirred only occasionally, allowing everything to get nicely browned. Whilst that was happening, I finely chopped plenty of fresh mint and parsley, halved a handful of cherry tomatoes and finely sliced a couple of very small, mild bell peppers. Once the meat, fennel and onions were nicely brown, I added a tablespoon of Ras el Hanout powder and a little cayenne, stirred this in well and then added a handful of raisins. Suddenly everything was smelling wonderfully rich and exotic! I rounded off the seasoning with salt and pepper of course, but then added the cooked spelt and when that had been stirred-in nicely, all of the other ingredients- along with a handful of raisins for a hint of sweetness. This was the fun part- because all of the flavors, colors and ingredients blended into one wonderful mixture! And a pretty amazing one at that!

After 2-3 minutes of gentle stirring, the peppers and tomatoes were just cooked enough to be nice and hot, but still with plenty of bite and all that I needed to do was add a little more finely chopped parsley and a few little tufts of fennel greens and a squeeze of lemon... and dinner was served! So- exotic looking and sounding it may be- but this dish is really easy to make and is different, tasty and fun. So those are 3 reasons already for you there to go ahead an try this... so what are you waiting for?


  1. Oh dear, that pun in the title is so wrong, Francesco... ;=)

    Nice dish, though...

  2. I know Frank ;-) but can you ever forgive me??? Best wishes and thanks from Francesco