Grano al sugo di pomodorini (wheat berries with cherry tomato sauce from Apulia)

A simple and tasty recipe from Puglia, the heel of Italy: wheat berries boiled till al dente and then simmered in a cherry tomato sauce, with garlic, chilly pepper and parsley. Straightforward and delicious. I prefer using semi-polished berries here, the ones that have had the outer, inedible husk removed but with some of the bran still attached. I also tried cooking with whole grain berries in the past I have always found them boring and far too chewy. If you soak the berries the night before, the cooking time will be very short indeed.

Grano al sugo di pomodorini (wheat berries with cherry tomato sauce from Apulia)
4 portions

300 g wheat berries, well rinsed until the water runs clear
1 kg cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
chilly pepper, to taste
about 3 tablespoons chopped parsley

Boil the berries in salted water until they are soft but still with some bite.
Let them steep in their liquid for about 30 minutes and drain, retaining some of their liquid.
Fry the garlic and chilly pepper in a generous glug of olive oil. When the garlic is lightly golden raise the heat and add two tablespoons of parsley.
Add the cherry tomatoes, salt them and let them cook on a brisk heat for about 20 minutes: you are aiming at a well- reduced and flavoursome sauce.
Add the wheat berries and let them simmer in the tomato sauce for about 20-30 minutes, adding some of the reserved cooking liquid if the dish risks becoming too thick. Bear in mind that this dish is not supposed to bee soupy though.
Let it rest, covered, for a good 10-15 minutes. add the remaining parsley, drizzle with olive oil and serve. Add some slivers of Pecorino or dollops of ricotta for a richer dish.


7 thoughts on “Grano al sugo di pomodorini (wheat berries with cherry tomato sauce from Apulia)

  1. One side of my family is from Puglia but funnily enough I had never tried this. I really only knew wheat berries as an ingredient for pastiera… but this does sound easy and delicious. Will give it a go.


  2. I’ve seen wheat berries but never knew what to do with them. Now, thanks to you, Stefano, I think I’ll pick some up the next time I see them. Thanks to David, I’ll look for wheat berries when our farmers markets reopen — in 7 long weeks. Love the idea of cooking them with cherry tomatoes. They make such a tasty sauce. Thanks for sharing a great recipe.


    1. thanks…John… grano: u could even cook it to make the filling for pastiera, just to experiment (then u can go back to the tinned variety, as I did 🙂 ) ….. try also farro della garfagnana if u find it, from outside Lucca: it is delicious… ste

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Glad you mentioned farro della garfagnana and Lucca. I’ve rented a place in Castiglioncello in Livorno. I’ll have a car and plenty of time to tour the area, eating my way from town to town. Maybe I’ll find farro della garfagnana. Food memories make the best souvenirs 🙂


  3. Stefano – this is a perfect winter dish… hearty and healthy! I have some local wheatberries in the freezer from our market and will get some cherry tomatoes this weekend. Even though it’s warm here (27°C) I know we will love this.

    I will send you the chocolate Viennese pound cake recipe soon. While traveling, I have been enjoying Paolo Petroni’s book. Wonderful stuff!


    1. ciao davide
      this is one of those dishes super easy to assemble but that deliver maximum return
      the cherry tomato sauce make the difference I think
      .. paolo petroni: I know… : a serious book (although I suspect one needs to be a cook cook to cook from it, because the recipes are very short and sketchy)


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