Wheat Berries with Ricotta and Honey (Cuccia)

iStockphoto
All over southern Italy country people eat bowls of nutty-tasting whole-wheat kernels with creamy ricotta, sweet honey and dried fruit to celebrate the feast of Santa Lucia on December 13 and the planting of the new wheat.

It's the one day no one eats pasta. Called Cuccia, the dish is lunch, dinner, or a snack. Here in America it's a terrific dish for brunch or dessert.

Who can resist the fresh warm tastes of whole wheat kernals with honey and ricotta? You can cook the wheat a day ahead and keep it in the refrigerator.

Have Cuccia the way you'd eat it at an Italian farmhouse -- served at room temperature in small bowls and eaten with soup spoons.

Ingredients
 
  • 1 cup (5 ounces) hard wheat kernels (wheat berries)
  • Water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups high-quality whole-milk ricotta (made without gelatin or stabilizers)
  • Honey to taste
  • 1/2 cup currants or raisins
  • generous pinch cinnamon (optional)
Instructions

1. Soak wheat in cold water to cover overnight in the refrigerator. Drain and place in a 3-quart saucepan along with the salt and enough water to cover by 2 to 3 inches. Cook at a slow simmer, partially covered, about 1 hour, or until tender. Kernels will open up slightly.

2. Drain the wheat and combine it with the ricotta. Blend in honey to taste, and the raisins or currants. Turn into a deep serving bowl and dust with cinnamon. Serve warm or at room temperature in small bowls.

Variations:

Cuccia with Chocolate: Some Italians like warm Cuccia with ricotta, honey, and shaved semi-sweet chocolate to taste. They add, too, 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped candied orange rind.

Copyright 2002, Lynne Rossetto Kasper

Prep time: 
Overnight soak time for wheat
Cook time: 
About 1 hour
Total time: 
About 1 hour active
Yield: 
Serves 4 to 6
  • American-made buffalo milk products aren't mainstream yet

    Since moving to the U.S. decades ago, Sruthi Pinnamaneni has been searching for American-made buffalo milk products. "There's just not enough buffalo milk to make them," she says. Steve Smith, who runs a buffalo dairy in Colorado, and Raffaele Mascolo, who brings milk to the U.S. from Italy, are two people who hope to change that.

Top Recipes

In Ethiopia, fearing famine and farming teff

Chef Daniel Klein and camerawoman Mirra Fine of the weekly, online documentary series The Perennial Plate learned about farming teff in Ethiopia.