Fregola Sarda: A Brief History and A Recipe

Fregola Sarda:  A Fun Twist on Pasta

fregola sardaBefore my most recent Italian Dinner Experience, I went to have lunch in Pike Place Market at Il Corvo Pasta with my aunt (it was my first time eating outside this year!). While enjoying a delicious lunch in the sun and discussing life, pasta and dinner options, the pastaio/chef/owner, Mike Easton, gave me a bag of his own fregola sarda to try for the occasion. Since I was eating a delicious plate of fresh bigoli with asparagus and golden tomatoes at the time, I decided that all the inspiration I needed was in front of me! I always like to present the dishes I serve with a bit of background information, pertinent cultural peculiarities and traditional uses. So, although I had a good bit of knowledge about the product already, I wanted to reference a website that would give people an opportunity to taste it, too, if they so desire… Here’s what I found:

Gourmet Sardinia : Artisanal Fregula Pasta of Sardinia.  “A small, toasted semolina pasta, fregula comes to Sardinia from the salty and spicy North African cuisine of “Maghreb.” The Ligurian navigators imported fregula from the Tabarka colony through the island of San Pietro. This is one of the few Moorish dishes that became part of our traditional cuisine. Efisio recommends fregula served in soups, as a cold pasta salad or as a side dish to grilled meats or fish.”

I just went back to check the link and I noticed that they’ve since sold out of their supply of this fun cous-cous like pasta! Darn… But, I’m sure if you look hard enough in specialty stores or even in Central Market’s bulk section, you’ll be able to try some version of it.

Fregola Sarda with asparagus, fava beans and golden cherry tomatoes

Fregola Sarda con Asparagi, Pomodorini e Fave
(Fregola Sarda with Asparagus, Golden Cherry Tomatoes and Fava Beans)
6-8 Porzioni (Serves 6-8)

Ingredients
2 Cups dry Fregola Sarda
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 cloves fresh Garlic, peeled and halved
1/3 Cup White Wine
8 oz. fresh (golden) Cherry Tomatoes, washed and halved
8 oz. fresh Asparagus, washed and stemmed–cut edible stems into very fine rounds and rough chop the upper portions leaving tips intact
2-3 Cups Hot Water (salted) or Vegetable/Chicken Stock
6 oz. fresh Fava Beans, shucked, blanched, shocked (ice bath) and shelled (yes, they require a bit of work but the effort is well worth their brilliant green flavor!)
Salt and Pepper, to taste — Red Pepper Flakes, if desired
2 oz. Pecorino Romano or Pecorino Sardo (if you’re so lucky as to find some!!)
2 Tbsp. Butter, unsalted (this is optional, to enhance smooth, creamy texture)

Instructions

1. Heat Oil in a large pan and sauté Garlic on medium 1-2 min. (do not brown garlic)
2. Add Asparagus rounds (not tops yet) and sauté until soft
3. Mix in the Cherry Tomatoes and season with Salt and Pepper
4. Add White Wine and cook out alcohol
5. Add Fregola Sarda and asparagus tips, sauté lightly, then gradually stir in Hot Water or Stock, a bit at a time after liquid has been absorbed (risotto method)
6. When Fregola is al dente, mix in Fava Beans and Pecorino, turn off heat and stir in butter, cover and let mantecare 5 min. (emulsifies sauce, adds creamy texture)
7. Garnish with grated Pecorino and a drizzle of good quality Ex.V. Olive Oil and serve hot or room temp., as desired

Buon Appetito!


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