Wheat berries are a delicious option for grain salads. They’re super chewy and can hold up to dressing so you don’t have to worry about them turning to mush. They complement the tender asparagus nicely. This recipe takes you through a simple pistachio pesto, but if you’re not in the mood you could easily use a store-bought pesto. The original recipe recommends roasting the asparagus, but I decided to steam it to keep it light and fresh. This would also be great with some grape tomatoes thrown in or some sautéed zucchini, or fresh corn cut off the cob.
Fresh pesto is a synch to make if you have a food processor (or a blender would probably work too, although you may need to add a little more oil or some water to help thin it out), so don’t be intimidated by that. Wheat berries take about 40-50 minutes to cook, but you can always make them ahead and keep them refrigerated until you’re ready to make the rest of the salad. Once made, the salad will last about a week in the fridge.
Asparagus Wheat Berry Salad with Pistachio Pesto
Adapted from A Beautiful Plate
- 2 cups red wheat berries
- 7 cups water
- 1 Tbsp kosher salt
- 2 bunches asparagus
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 3 cups basil leaves (not packed)
- 3 cups arugula
- 1 cup unshelled pistachios
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan (extra to serve)
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 lemon, zested
Rinse the wheat berries and add them to a large pot with the water and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 40-50 minutes, or until the wheat berries are tender and chewy.
While the wheat berries are cooking, cut off the stocky ends of the asparagus, and set in a steamer basket in a large pot over a little bit of water (enough to cover the bottom of the pan, but doesn’t come over the top of the steamer basket. Steam the asparagus until it’s bright green and tender, about 5-7 minutes. Immediately run the asparagus under cold water to stop the cooking and retain that bright green color.
In a food processor, chop the peeled garlic cloves until finely minced. Add the basil, and arugula, chopping well and scraping down the sides as needed. Add the pistachios, olive oil and parmesan, chopping well. Season well with salt and pepper, stirring to combine.
When the wheat berries are done cooking, allow them to cool almost to room temperature. Chop the asparagus into 1 inch pieces. Mix the wheat berries with the pesto and then fold in the asparagus and lemon zest.