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Wheat Berry Risotto

Macheesmo Recipe by
(3 reviews)
Wheat Berry Risotto
  • Prep Time 15 min
  • Total Time 1 hr 45 min
  • Servings 6
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Wheat Berry Risotto

A traditional risotto preparation but with wheat berries instead of rice!

Ingredients

1
cup hard wheat berries
1 1/2
quarts stock, warmed
1/2
onion diced
1
red pepper diced
1/2
cup white wine
1/4
cup olive oil
3
cloves garlic
1
teaspoon red pepper flakes (opt.)
1/2
cup fresh parsley, chopped (garnish)
1/2
cup parmesan cheese (garnish)

Directions

  • 1 Start by adding your stock to a large pot and get it simmering over medium heat. It just needs to be warm, not boiling hot.
  • 2 Crush Garlic cloves, but leave them mostly whole. Add olive oil to pan along with garlic cloves and red pepper flakes. Cook on LOW for about 5-6 minutes to infuse oil with garlic.
  • 3 Remove garlic cloves and add onions and peppers. Turn heat up to medium and cook until veggies start to soften, about 4 minutes.
  • 4 Add wheat berries to the pan and cook for about a minute to warm wheat berries.
  • 5 Add white wine to pan and stir until wine is evaporated.
  • 6 Working about 1 cup at a time, ladle stock into wheat berry mixture. Stir well and cook until pan is almost dry, then add another cup.
  • 7 It will probably take about an hour for the wheat berries to soften up and you'll probably use close to 5 or 6 cups of liquid. You don't need to stir it continuously though like you normally do with risotto. It's okay to let it sit for a few minutes.
  • 8 When wheat berries are soft, but still have a bit of a bite to them, remove from heat and serve with a garnish of parsley and Parmesan cheese.
  • 9 You should taste the dish for salt but it probably won't need salt because of the salt in the stock.
  • 10 You could add any number of veggies to this risotto like mushrooms, corn, tomatoes, or asparagus.
See Step By Step

Step By Step  

Wheat Berry Risotto

As prepared by Macheesmo,

You may not know this, but risotto is actually a process – not an ingredient.


A lot of people think that risotto is the rice used for making risotto. But just like you can use different tortillas or fillings to make a quesadilla, you can use a wide range of grains to make risotto!

Instead of rice, this Wheat Berry Risotto recipe uses a rarely used grain: whole-wheat berries. There are advantages and disadvantages to making risotto with wheat berries instead of rice. Unfortunately, it takes a bit longer – the berries take longer to soften up. The good news is that the berries are way more forgiving than rice. You don't have to stir them continuously and it's pretty hard to overcook them.

Not to mention the flavor is very unique and interesting. They have a really nutty flavor and great texture. As with any risotto you can put in all kinds of vegetables, from mushrooms to tomatoes.

I decided to keep this version very simple. I just used a red pepper and an onion for my veggies. You could add a huge range of veggies to it though, which makes it great for a Spring dish.

Wheat Berry Risotto recipe

To start this dish off, add all your stock (low sodium versions of vegetable or chicken) to a large pot and get it warm. You don't need it to boil or it'll evaporate quickly. A gentle simmer is ideal. It's really important to add warm liquid to the risotto later.

Wheat Berry Risotto recipe

To start the risotto, add a good amount of olive oil to a large pan along with some garlic and crushed red pepper flakes (if you want). Put these over LOW heat and let them cook for a few minutes until the garlic is browned but not burned.

This will infuse the oil with the garlic and spices.

Wheat Berry Risotto recipe

When the garlic is browned, remove it from the oil.

Next add the onions and peppers (or any other veggies you are using). Turn the heat up to medium and cook them for a few minutes until the veggies start to soften.

Then add all the wheat berries and cook for a minute to heat up the berries. Keep an eye on the pan to make sure berries don't burn in the dry pan.

Now you need some wine!

Wheat Berry Risotto recipe

Pour the wine into the pan and stir until it's evaporated. This will only take a minute or two. The wine adds some flavor to the dish.

Wheat Berry Risotto recipe

Now for the patience part! Working with about 1 cup of stock at a time, ladle the hot stock into the risotto and stir it. You don't need to continuously stir the risotto but you do need to keep an eye on it, as the liquid will evaporate pretty quickly.

When the pan is dry, add more stock. Keep doing this until the wheat berries are soft. It'll probably take an hour. They will eventually soften up though.

As the wheat berries soften, the whole dish will get kind of creamy just like any other risotto!

This version is almost done.

Wheat Berry Risotto recipe

Now, if I were using a spring vegetable like asparagus for this dish, I'd still want it a bit crispy. So I would cook it quickly at the beginning, then remove it from the pan, then fold it back in after the risotto is cooked. If you don't do this, your veggies will just turn to mush.

As a final touch for the dish, I highly recommend serving it with a good pinch of Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley!

Wheat Berry Risotto recipe

While this version of risotto takes a bit longer, I think it's actually easier. The wheat berries are a lot more forgiving than rice and you don't need to worry about overcooking them at all.

If you're looking for a new twist on an old classic, this is a great one!



Nick once made risotto out of pebbles. It took about two weeks for them to soften, but so worth it. Check out his blog, Macheesmo and his Tablespoon profile!
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Nutrition Information 
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