I have a slightly alarming ability to consume vast quantities of pasta. I love every second of the dance; twirling golden strands into thick ropes around your fork, feeling the pile unravel in your mouth, the moreish, al dente bite against your teeth and the explosion of juicy flavours. Oh, God. It’s deeply satisfying, and I never want it to be over.
But the passionate love affair burns brightly until every last morsel is gone, and then I’m left bereft and alone, faced with the inevitable post-consumptive regret that is pasta bloat.
I mean, it’s definitely worth it. After all, what’s a little digestive discord in the grand symphony of the perfect pasta dish? If the measure of love is what you’re willing to sacrifice, pasta and I would make a Mills and Boon novel blush.
But recently I discovered something wonderful, life-affirming and joyful, so naturally I must share it with you. It’s spelt, it’s delicious, and it’s much kinder to your digestive system.
This ancient grain is a species of wheat, but has a different molecular structure to the common modern classifications and thus is digested differently. It’s not safe for coeliacs, mind, because it still has gluten. But those with wheat sensitivity often find that they can tolerate spelt – excellent news for the wheat-challenged amongst us!
Spelt is high in fibre and a great source of complex carbohydrates as well as providing a wide range of nutrients like vitamin B2, niacin, copper, iron, zinc and magnesium, all of which contribute to the healthy function of the body’s nervous, cardiovascular and immune systems. And for what it’s worth, in my very non-clinical trial I found that pasta bloat was not a problem with spelt.
Spelt pasta has a gentle nutty flavour and a smoother texture than wholemeal pasta, so it’s a perfect option for those who dislike the grainy mouthfeel of brown pasta. Cooked here with subtle strands of zucchini and lit up with lemon, garlic and chilli, it makes a fantastic ten-minute supper. Dive in – twirl away – enjoy!
Spelt spaghetti with zucchini (serves two)
200g spelt spaghetti
1 medium zucchini
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp Chiu Chow chilli oil or chilli flakes
Zest of a lemon
1 tbsp olive oil
Parsley, to garnish
Put the spelt on to boil but be careful not to overcook it. You want to stop it before it’s quite done as it does keep cooking when you drain it and again in the pan later.
Meanwhile, shave the zucchini into strips using a vegetable peeler.
Reserve one cup of the spelt cooking liquid and then drain the pasta.
In a pan, heat the olive oil and zest the lemon into the oil.
Gently fry the garlic over a medium heat without letting it colour. You can add salt to stop the garlic from browning.
Add the chilli oil and half the cooking liquid.
Add the zucchini and heat through, then add the pasta and toss well. If it looks a little dry, add some more of the cooking liquid so it forms a creamy sauce.
Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve hot.