Wheat Berries with Pistachio Pesto

May  7, 2018
1 Rating
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

These wheat berries think they’re the cutest pasta shape around (and we won’t tell them otherwise). I love a big bowl of pesto-y wheat berries just as they are, but why not add a runny-yolked egg on top, or serve alongside grilled vegetables, like eggplant, or meat, like chicken? Keep any leftovers in the fridge and serve cold—maybe at a picnic!—just like pasta salad. —Emma Laperruque

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: Why You Should Cook—and Dress—Your Grains Like Pasta —The Editors

  • Serves 4
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 cup wheat berries
  • 1/2 cup dill, stems mostly removed
  • 1/2 basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves
  • 1/3 cup grated pecorino, plus more for garnish
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and peeled
  • 3/4 cup shelled pistachios (about 4 ounces), plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
In This Recipe
  1. Set a large pot of water (at least 8 cups) over high heat. Add the salt, plus enough to taste so the water is very salty. Bring to a boil, then add the wheat berries. Boil for 50 minutes to 1 hour until tender but chewy. (If needed, add more water during the cooking process, so they’re always in a lot of liquid.)
  2. Meanwhile, make the pesto. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Add the pistachios to a rimmed sheet tray. Roast for about 8 minutes or until fragrant and toasty. Cool completely. Combine the herbs, pecorino, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped, scraping down as needed. Add the pistachios and pulse until roughly chopped. Add the oil and pulse to yield a rustic, chunky pesto. You don’t want it completely smooth—you’d lose the pistachios’ pretty color and, if over-processed, they’ll turn into butter, making the pesto greasy. Season with salt to taste.
  3. When the wheat berries are done, use a spider to transfer them to a big bowl. Add some pesto and toss. Add some salty, starchy water from the pot and toss. Add more pesto, water, and salt as needed, until a sauce forms. You won't use all the pesto, but it keeps in the fridge (and freezer!) well.
  4. Serve hot with pecorino or pistachios or both on top.

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Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.