I started this recipe not by figuring out how to cook the whole grain spelt, but instead giving myself a quick grammar reminder.
What, exactly, is the past tense verb of “spell”?
I thought for sure it was “spelled,” but it turns out that “spelt” is also technically fine to use and is even preferred outside of the U.S.
So in the U.S. you would probably see this sentence: I spilled the spelt and it spelled spelt.
The British version though is much more fun: I spilt the spelt and it spelt spelt.
Ok. Enough of that. Let’s cook something.
1) Cook spelt according to directions. Some say you need to soak the spelt, but I found it okay to just simmer it directly after a quick rinse in cold water. It will need to simmer or 80-90 minutes and you should taste it occasionally and stop the cooking when it reaches the consistency you like.
2) Break off tough ends of the asparagus and chop into 1 inch chunks. Slice zucchini or squash into half coins as well.
3) In a large skillet, add a drizzle of oil over medium high heat and add the asparagus and squash. Saute for a few minutes until the veggies are bright in color but not soggy. They should still have some bite to them. Season with salt, pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.
4) To poach the eggs, bring a few inches of water to a light simmer over medium heat. Add 2-3 tablespoons of vinegar to the water and swirl it with a spoon.
5) Crack the eggs into a small bowl and roll each egg into the water one at a time. Let them poach for 2-3 minutes until the whites are set. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon and let drain on a paper towel.
Plate the spelt by dividing the spelt between plates. Top with sauteed veggies and a poached egg. Drizzle good olive oil over each plate and sprinkle on a pinch of ground coriander and red pepper flakes.
Spelt is a whole grain wheat, but it typically hasn’t undergone some of the modern changes that standard wheat has gone through. It has some gluten and you can find it in flour form, but I love it in its whole grain form like this:
You should be able to find it in most natural food stores and it’s on the rise in popularity so if your store doesn’t carry it, just ask them and they might order it in for you.
Instructions for cooking spelt say you can soak it overnight but if you forget to do that, it’s fine. Just rinse the grains under cold water and then simmer them until they are tender. That’ll take anywhere from 75-90 minutes.
Spelt is very flexible when it comes to cooking so I recommend just tasting a few grains as it cooks until it reaches the texture you want. Some people want it chewier and some people like it light and fluffy.
I tend to be more on the chewy side so I let mine cook for about 75 minutes and it was perfect.
If there’s any water left in the pot when it’s done, you can just drain it off and keep the spelt warm over very low heat.
I wanted to use some nice spring veggies for this dish so I went with thin asparagus and squash. The truth is though that almost any veggie will work great. Just find something that looks fresh.
I kept the veggies simple for this version and sauteed them very lightly in some olive oil over medium-high heat. The key for cooking veggies like this is you want to cook them until they are a bright color, but still have some bite to them.
After cooking for just a few minutes, mine were done and I seasoned them with a pinch of salt and pepper and some red pepper flakes.
The Poached Egg
This dish was made for an egg on top. It totally makes the dish and it would be a bit bland without it. If poaching isn’t your thing, you could quickly fry an egg and slide that on top as well.
Poaching isn’t hard though and I hope you give it a shot. Just bring a few inches of water to a slight simmer in a pot and add a few tablespoons of plain vinegar to the water. That will help the egg stay together.
Crack the egg into a bowl and then slide it into the water. (You can crack it directly into the water if you’re feeling bold, but the bowl just helps with shell removal.)
The egg might start to spread out a bit, but should slowly come together as it cooks into a little pocket.
It’ll need to simmer for 2-3 minutes until the whites are just set. I would say the most important thing here is to make sure your water is hot, but not boiling. If it boils then it will break up the egg and you’ll have a mess on your hands.
You can lift the eggs out of the water with a slotted spoon when they are done and transfer them to a paper towel to drain. If you have a good sized pot you can easily poach four at a time once you get the hang of it.
I wanted to add some spice to this dish, but also wanted to keep it simple. I found that these two spices went well with the spelt and veggies. A small pinch of both red pepper flakes and ground coriander is all you need.
When you’re ready to eat, pile the spelt on a few plates and add the veggies.
Top each with an egg and drizzle on some good olive oil. Season each plate and you’re ready to chow down!
Breaking the egg open is always fun.
I very much loved this plate of food.
Where else on the Internet can you find a delicious recipe like this and a free grammar lesson?!