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Artichoke Speltotto

Serves
4

This is a dish to elevate the artichoke from antipasti middling to the star of the show, mingling happily with everything that it loves. A little time and dedication to simple process is required here but the result is nothing short of delicious, healthy, earthy and indulgent. Pearled spelt is widely available and beats rice for earth and texture in this dish. If you can’t find it, however, a traditional risotto still works exceptionally well. A small dish makes a wonderful Ayurvedic supper, or a larger portion is ideal for lunchtime, when our digestive fire and appetite is at its optimal strength. Not great for vata, as neither artichokes nor spelt are recommended foods for this dry and airy dosha, but you could swap spelt grains for traditional arborio (or any type of rice, which is all good for vata), and use a vata-suitable vegetable, such as pumpkin, sweet potato, asparagus or jerusalem artichoke – the latter will give the meal a much richer and sweeter flavour, ideal for vata who need that extra ‘sweet’ taste within their balancing meals. 

Ingredients

1 large globe artichoke
1 sliced sweet red pepper
4 cloves of garlic
1 leek sliced into ribbons
4 spilling handfuls of pearled spelt
A splash of white wine
1 sprig of fresh thyme
1 thumb sized knob of butter
500ml vegetable stock (homemade is best followed by a good, organic bouillon)
Half a teaspoon of red chilli flakes
1 pinch of dried oregano
2 tablespoons of good rapeseed oil
40g of hard, strong sheep’s cheese (young pecorino from your nearest Italian deli works well)

Method

  • 1 Preheat your oven to 200c / gas mark 7
  • 2 Prepare your artichoke by trimming the stem to around 4cm in length and removing the spikes and outer leaves. The choke is more easily removed after roasting
  • 3 Cut in half vertically and place in a roasting dish along with your sliced red pepper and garlic cloves. Simply cut the hard nub from each garlic clove but there is no need for peeling. Splash with rapeseed oil and toss to ensure the vegetables are coated with the oil before they go in the oven. Roast for around 35 minutes or until the peppers take on a little char at the edges and the artichoke stalk is tender when probed with the point of a knife
  • 4 Take your artichoke to a chopping board and cut off the leaves above the heart. Scoop out the fibrous, fluffy choke and discard. Chop the heart and stalk into thin coins
  • Toss the peppers into a food processor and squeeze in the roasted garlic cloves. They will simply slip out of their skins. Add a pinch each of dried oregano and sea salt and blitz for ten seconds or so to a rough paste
  • 5 Heat your rapeseed oil in a saucepan. Add the chilli flakes to infuse the oil and, after a minute, throw in the sliced leek and cook on a low heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly
  • 6 Add the pearled spelt and stir in the oil for a minute or two before splashing in the white wine and a small knob of butter
  • 7 Add your vegetable stock as you would when making a risotto, ladle by ladle with dedicated stirring, keeping the heat high enough to maintain a good bubble. Continue for around 20 minutes and taste to check texture then season, taste, adjust
  • 8 Add the coined artichoke and cook for 5 more minutes before removing from the heat. Grate in the cheese and fold it though the spelt, then loosely stir in the red pepper and garlic relish. Dress with a drizzle of fresh rapeseed oil and a grind of black pepper and serve