Desserts: Cakes, Biscuits, Treats, Jams Italian Regional Recipes

Apulian Wheat Berries with Pomegranate and Mulled Wine

This recipe comes from the Apulian tradition and is usually prepared on November 2nd to celebrate All Souls’ Day.

In the past only walnuts and pomegranate grains were added to boiled soft wheat seasoned with mulled wine, ‘Vin Cotto‘ in Italian, or cooked grape must. Then, over time, pieces of dark chocolate and cedar/mixed candied fruit and cinnamon sometimes were also added.
If you can’t find Mulled Wine you can replace it with some acacia or millefiori honey, it won’t be stick to Apulian tradition, but it will be very good as well.  Although soaking and cooking the wheat berries takes quite a while, it can be done in advance – and it will then take you only 5 minutes to put together this delicious traditional dish.

A brief curiosity about Vincotto:
The ageing processes of the grapes have been known since ancient times, in fact the vincotto or cooked must was produced since the times of the ancient Romans. The cooked grape must took two specific names, Sapa when it was reduced by half during the process (a term still in use today in the regions of Central Italy and especially in Sardinia) or Defrutto when it was reduced by a 1/3. However, the Apulian peasants realised that cooking the grape must for several hours over the fire produced a hot drink with a strong and sweet taste that helped to invigorate the body during work in the fields.


Serves: 4 | Preparation time 5 mins + 24-48 h to soak | Cooking time: 45-50 mins

  • Dried wheat berries: 500 g
  • Dark chocolate: 100 g
  • Pomegranates: 1
  • Walnuts or almonds: 4 tbsp
  • Mulled Wine (slow-cooked, non-fermented grape must): to taste

Method

Thoroughly rinse the wheat berries under cold running water, then leave them to soak in water for 24 to 48 hours.

Transfer the wheat berries and their water in a pot; bring the water to a boil and then leave it to simmer on medium to low heat for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the wheat berries are cooked through. Drain the wheat berries, transfer them in a bowl and leave them to cool down at room temperature.

Tip: If you prefer, you can substitute the dried wheat berries with the precooked ones. They’re easy to find in most supermarkets, don’t require any soaking and are usually faster to prepare.

Use a spoon to detach the pomegranate seeds from the inside of the pomegranate and let them fall on a shallow plate. Crush some of the seeds with the back of your spoon to make sure to extract some of the pomegranate’s juice. Add the pomegranate seeds and their juice to the wheat berries.

Cut the chocolate and the walnuts in small pieces and add them to the wheat berries, as well. Pour in some vincotto according to your taste.

Stir well to mix the ingredients and leave it to rest for some minutes before serving.

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