In the autumn, I rely on simple, warming one-dish dinners. They require so little clean-up, and the slow commitment to stirring the risotto as it cooks offers me a point of peace and meditative quiet. This version of risotto, is one of my favorites. Instead of rice I use einkorn wheat berries which give the risotto a wonderful chewiness, while almonds offer a crunch and both butternut squash and spot prawns contribute a touch of sweetness -- perfect for late fall vata.
**Einkorn is an ancient variety of wheat, and the first wheat to be cultivated in what is now southeast Turkey. After its initial cultivation, einkorn spread throughout Europe, the Middle East and into north Africa. As a non-hybridized, heirloom variety of wheat, einkorn is richer in phytonutrients than modern wheat, higher in protein, and higher in antioxidants.
- 2 cups einkorn wheat berries
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Herb-Infused Ghee
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 shallot, sliced thin
- ½ cup blanched almonds, coarsely chopped
- 1 cup chopped butternut squash
- ¾ pound Pacific spot prawns
- 4 cups chicken bone broth, plus additional broth as needed
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 bunch spinach, trimmed of stems and coarsely chopped
The night before you plan to make this dish, place the einkorn wheat berries into a medium mixing bowl. Cover them with warm water, and stir in the apple cider vinegar. Allow the einkorn to soak, tightly covered, for 18 to 24 hours, then drain them in a fine-mesh sieve, rinse them well and set them aside.
Warm the olive oil and ghee in a wide stainless steel or enameled cast iron skillet over medium heat. When the ghee melts and mingles with the olive oil, toss in the garlic and shallot. Fry them in the olive oil, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until they become fragrant. Stir in the almonds and continue cooking them a further 2 minutes, or until they begin to brown ever so slightly.
Turn the down the heat to medium-low. Stir in the soaked einkorn, and stir into the garlic, shallot and almonds for 3 minutes. Stir in the butternut squash, and pour in the broth ½ cup at a time, stirring continuously with each addition, until the liquid is absorbed by the cooking grains, about 30 minutes. Stir in the spotted shrimp and the white wine, cooking until the shrimp curl under the heat of the stove, about 3 minutes. Stir in the spinach, and continue cooking until the liquid is largely absorbed by the grains, and the spinach wilts in the heat of the risotto. Adjust seasoning with salt, and serve warm.