Pic of Parsnip and leek risotto with poached eggs

Parsnip and leek risotto with poached eggs

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Vegetarian mains

Parsnip and leek risotto with poached eggs

Main Serves 2 45 min
This spelt risotto is a healthy version, using no cheese or butter.

Cook's notes

Poaching eggs is easy with fresh, good eggs. Adding vinegar to the pan helps them hold together. Don't worry if you get a few straggly white bits; include them or trim off like a restaurant chef would for neater presentation. Handle your eggs carefully once cooked. If you are nervous about cooking them in one batch, simmer one at a time for 2½ minutes each, carefully transfer to a bowl of cold water then pop them all back in the pan of water to reheat for 1 minute when the spelt is ready. Alternatively, you could just fry them.


  • 1 leek
  • oil for frying and roasting, e.g. sunflower or light olive
  • 1 large or 2 small parsnips
  • 1 large or 2 smaller garlic cloves
  • 30g fresh parsley
  • 175g pearled spelt
  • 2 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard – add to taste
  • 1 tbsp white
  • wine vinegar
  • 4 eggs
  • salt and pepper
Image of Parsnip and leek risotto with poached eggs


Prep time: 5 min
Cooking time: 40 min
  • Step 1

    Preheat oven to 210°C/Gas Mark 6. Trim the top and bottom of the leek, cut in half lengthways, then into thin shreds. Wash well to remove any grit. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan. Add the leek and fry on a low heat for 10 minutes, stirring now and then to stop it catching. If it does look like
  • Step 2

    catching, add a splash of water and check your heat.
  • Step 3

    Meanwhile, wash and peel the parsnip(s). Cut into small dice of about 1½ cm. Toss in a baking dish in just enough oil to coat. Season with salt and pepper and pop in the oven for the time it takes to cook the rest of the spelt risotto. Peel and finely chop, grate, or crush the garlic. Wash the parsley. Rinse the spelt in a sieve under cold water.
  • Step 4

    After 10 minutes, add the spelt, garlic and dried tarragon to the leek. Stir for 2 minutes. Add 600ml water and crumble in the stock cube. Season and bring up to a low boil. Cook for 25 minutes, stirring now and then (keep an eye on the liquid; top up if it looks like drying out).
  • Step 5

    Meanwhile, roughly chop the parsley. Once the spelt has been cooking for 10 minutes, put a large pan of water on to boil. Once the spelt has cooked for 25 minutes, remove the parsnip from the oven and add to the spelt together with the mustard. Stir together. Turn the spelt off, or keep it on a very low heat, stirring it now and then while you make the poached eggs.
  • Step 6

    Add the vinegar to the pan of boiling water. Turn the heat right down so it is at a bare simmer with no bubbles at all. Lay some kitchen paper ready. Crack each egg into separate cups (or just use one cup and work quickly). Stir the pan of water to make a small whirlpool in the middle, then tip in each egg. Cook the eggs for 2½-3 minutes for runny yolks, more if you like them firm (they do tend to look very soft when they come out, but will carry on cooking for a moment as they cool).
  • Step 7

    Alternatively, cook each one separately (see cook's note). Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the eggs and transfer to the kitchen paper to drain. Add the parsley to the spelt and stir. Check the seasoning, then divide between two pasta bowls or plates. Carefully place the eggs on top to serve.

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