Parsnip vermouth speltotto with almonds and crispy sage


This recipe was originally written for Town & Country UK. You can also find it here.

I love the nuttiness of spelt and it is delicious in a risotto. The addition of parsnip means that you get a good dose of vegetables in this risotto (or speltotto). Feel free to use dried rosemary or thyme if you do not have tarragon but do not skimp on the bay leaf or sage as their flavour goes a long way. The chicken bone broth I’ve used is slow cooked for 24hrs and adds a beautiful richness to this dish whilst the vegetable ones makes for a lighter taste. Both are equally divine.


  • olive oil

  • 2 banana shallots (or 3 regular shallots), finely chopped

  • 200g grated raw parsnip (about 2 medium parsnips)

  • 2 tsp dried tarragon

  • 250g pearled spelt

  • 1 bay leaf

  • small bunch of sage

  • 1 wine glass of vermouth ( I like Martini bianco)

  • 500ml chicken broth (I love Ossa Organic - chicken or vegan)

  • sea salt and black pepper

  • a good handful of grated parmesan (plus extra to serve)

  • a knob of butter

  • 40g whole almonds (roasted in an oven of 180° for 10 mins, cooled and roughly chopped) 


  • Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan and add your chopped shallots. Cook gently for about 3 minutes until soft and translucent. 

  • Add your parsnips, dried tarragon and a further 2-3 tablespoons olive oil and cook for 5-7 minutes stirring constantly. Your parsnips should be soft and have caught a little char from the bottom of the pan in places.

  • Add the pearled spelt and stir well to coat everything evenly.  Pour in your vermouth and increase the heat temporarily allowing the alcohol to cook off. Add the bay leaf and a few springs of sage.

  • Reduce the heat and begin to add your broth slowly whilst stirring continuously for about 25-30 minutes. You may like to crisp up your sage leaves at this point too (see points below) Your speltotto is ready when it has cooked through but still has a good bite.

  • To make your crispy sage take a small saucepan and fill it with about a cm worth of oil. You can use inexpensive oil for this; sunflower, rapeseed or a light olive oil work fine. Bring it to a medium/high heat. This should take about three minutes. Test it by splashing a few drops of water into it. If it sizzles it is ready.

  • Tear off however many sage leaves as you wish. I like to do about twenty. In groups of three or four drop the leaves into the hot oil for about 20 second. Remove using tongues or two forks and place onto a paper towel lined plate to drain the excel oil. Quickly sprinkle with flaked sea salt.

  • When you think your speltotto is ready switch off the heat, add your parmesan and knob of butter and stir through. Remove the bay leaf and sage springs and season to taste.

  • To serve divide your speltotto into bowls. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle over your almonds, a little grated parmesan, a further pinch of flakey sea salt and garnish with a crispy sage leaf or two.

Alexandra Dudley