Recipe: Parsnips baked with pearled spelt, radicchio, crème fraîche & walnuts

Spelt is an ancient grain with a nutty attractive flavour. These plump cooked grains flatter the sweet cooked parsnip, bitter radicchio and the walnuts. Adding grains to gratin dishes can give ballast and easily swell a dish to feed more mouths.

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You will need:

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  • 600g parsnips
  • 200ml crème fraîche
  • 150g pearled spelt or pearl barley
  • Half large radicchio
  • Half tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 50g shelled walnuts, roughly chopped
  • Nutmeg, about a quarter grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Butter

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180° and use a little butter to grease a medium-sized gratin dish. 

2. Peel the parsnips and slice into chunky batons. If they are especially large, cut the hard core out. 

3. Boil the batons in plenty of salted boiling water for 3-4 minutes, and when tender, drain well in a colander. Reserve the water.

4. Put the water back in the pan and add the spelt, topping up with more water if necessary. Bring the water to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer until tender – about 15-20 minutes. Drain the spelt
well and keep about three tablespoons
of this cooking water.

5. Roughly chop the radicchio into broad ribbons.

6. Arrange the cooked spelt and parsnips together with the radicchio in the buttered gratin dish. Season with salt and pepper
to taste.

7. Mix the crème fraiche, mustard and about three tablespoons of cooking water to loosen together with a pinch of salt.

8. Spoon the crème fraiche mixture over the gratin dish.

9. Grate the nutmeg over the gratin dish. Add the walnuts and the thyme leaves.

10. Dot the top of the gratin dish with
a few cubes of butter.

11. Cook in the hot oven for about
20 minutes until golden in places and piping hot.

12. Remove from the oven, rest for a little and serve.

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Image credit: Jason Ingram