Wheat Berries With Pistachio Pesto

May  7, 2018
1 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4
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

What You'll Need
  • 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
  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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Melissa Y
    Melissa Y
  • FrugalCat
  • Emma Laperruque
    Emma Laperruque
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

4 Reviews

Melissa Y. August 3, 2018
We loved this as a picnic side, and frying the leftovers with an egg makes for a fabulous and easy salad topper.
Emma L. August 3, 2018
Yum! Love that idea for repurposing the leftovers!
FrugalCat May 8, 2018
Not a basil or mint fan so I made this with parsley and cilantro. Very good, will make again. The pistachio was a nice flavor but I am eager to try my favorite nut- walnut.

At Whole Foods there are two bulk buns of wheat, one labeled winter and one spring. Which is best? I don't even remember which one I have.
Emma L. May 8, 2018
Mm, love a walnut pesto! The winter/spring label refers to the growing season—and I don't have a personal preference between the two. Curious to hear if others do!