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Asparagus and monk's beard spelt

Serves 4

Spelt makes a great alternative to rice in a risotto-type dish. If you can't find monk's beard, or agrette as it's known in Italy, just use chopped chives and chervil.

2tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
150-200g spelt, soaked for 3-4 hours in cold water
1ltr vegetable stock
150g asparagus, thinly sliced on the angle
100-150g monk's beard, trimmed of any roots and washed, or 2-3tbsp of chopped herbs, as above
100ml double cream
100g butter
80g finely grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a pan, add the spelt then gradually add the vegetable stock in 4-5 stages, making sure the liquid is absorbed before adding the next bit.

Cook the spelt for about 30-40 minutes until tender, adding more stock if necessary and seasoning and tasting as it is cooking.

Add the asparagus and monk's beard and continue cooking until the asparagus is tender; then add the butter, cream and Parmesan and cook for a couple more minutes.

Re-season if necessary and add a little more stock to adjust the consistency; it should be fairly wet. Serve immediately.