For me, the perfect winter meal is a casserole – preferably with some added grains. Casseroles are fairly easy to prepare, and then they pretty much cook themselves. However, they taste best when prepared the evening before, then left to stand overnight and heated up the next day.
Leaving a casserole to rest overnight allows the flavours to slowly unfold, resulting in a more intense flavour sensation. This well-known phenomenon also applies to meat stews such as goulash and traditional Bolognese sauce.
With its root vegetables, grains and kale, this casserole really is a hearty meal. Spelt adds a wonderful edge to the dish, and the pesto provides a fresh green touch plus a special creaminess. This is how you prepare the spelt and kale casserole:
3 tbsp olive oil, 2 onions, finely chopped, 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped, 300 g celeriac and 300 g parsley root, both cut into 1 cm cubes, 200 g ground spelt grains or pearl barley, rinsed in cold water, 1.2 litres vegetable stock, salt, freshly ground nutmeg and lemon juice.
Sauté the onions, garlic, celeriac and parsley root briefly in olive oil, add the spelt and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the stock and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the kale, simmer for another 5 minutes, then add salt, nutmeg and a little lemon juice to taste.
Prepare the fresh pesto just before serving: briefly blanch 150 g parsley leaves in boiling salted water and then chill in ice-cold water. Drain and carefully squeeze out the excess liquid using a tea towel, then blend with the remaining ingredients to form a smooth paste: 40 g walnuts, lightly roasted, 100 ml cold-pressed sunflower oil, salt and a large pinch of freshly ground nutmeg. Stir five large tablespoonfuls of pesto into the casserole before serving.