Thursday, February 4, 2010

Fregola di Sardegna

Fig.1. Fregola is available in most specialty Italian stores, I purchase mine at Charcuterie Noel in Montreal North.

For this post we remain in Sardinia. Fregola is pasta made with coarsely ground, durum wheat semolina. It’s often referred to as Sardinian couscous—a description which most likely stems from how natives attempt to describe fregola to the curious, hungry tourists.
Fregola pasta has a very distinct taste that can best be described as a cross between bread and rice. The wheat is formed much the same way as regular couscous but fregola is toasted after it's dried.
Fregola is cooked much the same way as regular pasta and can be prepared and served like most rice or pasta dishes. Fregola also has the ability to stay al dente for a long time and, as such, makes an ideal dinner party meal as it can be made a few hours ahead of time. I’ve also noticed that the fregola requires a bit more salt in the boiling water than regular pasta; this is partly because the pasta is toasted, and because coarse semolina absorbs water at a slower rate than fine semolina; it also explains why the fregola remains al dente longer than regular pasta.

Fregola di Pomodoro ed Arselle (Sardinian dialect which translates to fregola with tomato and clam.)
Serves 6 to 8

Fig.2. Arselle are actually baby clams found in the waters around Sardinia; overfishing has caused the number of arselle to decrease dramatically. The clams in this picture come from Les Iles de la Madeleine. If clams are not your thing, this dish can be made with minced meat or ground sausage.

500 g bag of fregola
4 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans of drained clams, liquid reserved
1 cup dry white wine
1 28oz can of plum tomatoes
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and begin the soffrito by cooking the onion and garlic over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the clams (without the clam juice) and cook for 3 minutes. Turn the heat up to medium high and add the wine, reduce by half then add the clam juice, the plum tomatoes and the parsley. (Break the tomatoes apart with your hands or wooden spoon.) Turn the heat back to medium and cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta, (reserve about a cup of the pasta water, also, use a colander with small holes when dealing with fregola or most of them will go down the drain.) and add the fregola to the clam sauce—if the pasta seems dry or thick, use some reserved pasta water to loosen it up. Simmer in the pan for a few minutes and serve hot. With this kind of cold we’re currently experiencing, this is just the kind of dish that will warm you up.

Charcuterie Noel, 5733 boul Leger, Montreal-Nord, QC, H1G 6J2. (514) 323-0256‎

1 comment:

figtree said...

Im going to try to find this interesting 'pasta' sounds wonderful, thanks for the great recipe!