Now that’s a mouthful! Spelt Risotto? Sounds like a spelling mistake! Spelt, get it? Yuck, Yuck… Let’s break it down… What in the world is Spelt? Spelt is one of the family of ancient grains. It’s also called farro. It’s closely related to our modern day wheat grains. Spelt has a complex history but scientists think that it was a hybrid of another type of ancient grain called emmer and wild goat grass in the Near East. It was cultivated in Europe during the middle ages and was replaced by bread flower wheat by the beginning of the 20th century. It’s making a comeback among health conscience people because Spelt requires fewer fertilizers to grow properly.
While this dish is not exactly Risotto since it’s made with a grain closely related to wheat and not rice. It’s otherwise pretty similar to risotto. It has kind of a rich creamy sauce and some a decent amount of vegetables (pumpkin, zucchini and turnip greens). Then also layered in there are some garbanzo beans for a boost of protein. The sauce is made up of smoked provolone. In the 2nd picture it looks a little soupy, but believe me it’s more cheesy than soupy. BTW, this is a Product of Italy and as I’ve said before when you can find these ready made dishes in the freezer section from Europe, they are usually of high quality.
It’s super simple to make. Just dump the contents of the bag into a skillet with a little bit of water and start to cook everything. The sauce actually comes in these weird squares that look like frozen cheese and melt as you cook the dish giving a rich creamy sauce. It takes about 7 minutes from the time you throw it in the skillet to the time you serve it.
I really thought this was an excellent side dish to a main meal (Although I ate the whole dish by myself for lunch one day). My wife thought it was too smokey, but she is sensitive to smoked foods. I could barely taste the smoked provolone and just thought it gave it a more full bodied flavor to the dish. The spelt has a different texture than risotto rice and is a little harder to chew, but distractingly so. I do wish the grains were a little softer, but that’s just me. If you are expecting real risotto, you might be disappointed. But if you are expecting a satisfying vegetarian meal or side dish, then this is for you!
I am going to rate this Trader Joe’s Spelt Risotto a solid 8 Bells and this one is especially for you vegetarians out there