SPELT PILAF WITH MUSHROOMS, ALMONDS, DRIED FRUIT, ROASTED ONIONS, AND EGGPLANT
From: The Ethical Gourmet by Jay Weinstein
As a main course Whole-grain pilafs make great main courses when they're crafted as flavorful dishes rather than afterthoughts. This sweet, vegetable-rich, complexly spiced dish stands on its own, with or without a meat accompaniment. Spelt is sold either unprocessed or with the outer hull polished off (pearled).
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 3 whole cloves
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 5 whole allspice berries
• 3 celery ribs, diced (about 2 cups)
• 4 carrots, cut into bite-size pieces
• 1 tablespoon kosher salt
• 4 cups mixed mushrooms, such as shiitake, cremini, and oyster, cut into bite-size pieces
• 2 cups whole-grain spelt or wheat berries, soaked overnight
• 1/2 cup white wine
• 4 cups vegetable stock or water
• 8 pitted prunes
• 12 dried apricots
• 4 onions, sliced 1/2 inch thick
• 1/2 pound Japanese eggplant, cut into large chunks
• 1/2 cup whole, shelled almonds, lightly toasted in a dry pan until shiny
Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil with the cloves, cinnamon, and allspice in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the celery, carrots, salt, and mushrooms. Cook until the vegetables release their juices and become soft, about 10 minutes.
Stir in the spelt until coated with juices. Add the wine; cover and simmer 5 minutes to steam out the alcohol. Add the stock, prunes, and apricots; cover. Lower the flame; simmer until the spelt is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 1½ hours (less for pearled spelt).
While the spelt is cooking, heat the oven to 400°F. Toss the onions and eggplant with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Spread on a baking sheet; roast until tender and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Serve the pilaf topped with almonds, roasted onions, and roasted eggplant.