Updated February 2012.
Is it a grain?
Is it a couscous?
Is it a pasta?
No! No! Yes!
Meet fregula sarda, the newest addition to The Perfect Pantry.
A traditional Sardinian pasta made from hard durum wheat, fregula (or fregola) sarda resembles Israeli couscous. The pasta dough is rolled into tiny, not-entirely-round balls and toasted lightly -- not once, but twice -- which gives it a nutty flavor, a bit of texture, and a beautiful golden color.
With origins in the Moorish cuisine of North Africa brought to Sardinia by sailors and traders, fregula is great for salads, soups and main course salad dishes.
Use it like couscous, topped with a Moroccan vegetable stew. Add it to soup, in place of barley. Boil it in water or stock, drain, and top with your favorite pasta sauce and lots of cheese. Cook it like risotto. Serve fregula as a cold pasta salad, or tossed with olive oil and fresh herbs, as a side dish with grilled meats or fish.
Fregula sarda with leeks and sausage
Inspired by a recipe in Faith Heller Willinger's Adventures of an Italian Food Lover, this dish serves 4 as a first course, or 2 as a main course with a bit left for lunch the next day.
2 cups low-sodium or homemade chicken stock
2 cups water
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6 oz fresh sausage (I use mild Italian turkey sausage), removed from the casing
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional), to taste
2 Tbsp dry white wine
1 cup fregula sarda
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, or more to taste
2 tsp minced flat-leaf parsley
Lots of freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Wash and thinly slice the white part of the leeks, and add to a deep sauté pan (or small stock pot or Dutch oven) with the olive oil. Cook over low heat until the leeks are translucent, 3-4 minutes.
Add the sausage, and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon, for 3-4 minutes, until browned on all sides. Add red pepper flakes, white wine, and fregula. Stir to combine, and add the hot chicken stock.
Bring to a boil over medium heat; then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the fregula is cooked through and most of the liquid is absorbed (add additional water, a few tablespoons at a time, if needed).
Remove from heat, and stir in the cheese, parsley, and plenty of black pepper.
Serve hot or at room temperature.
More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Vegetarian couscous with dried fruit
Shrimp, couscous, feta and herb salad with tomato vinaigrette
Curried orzo chicken salad
Fregula sarda with roasted and fresh peppers, feta and basil
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Fregola sarda with asparagus, heirloom tomato and goat's curd, from Eat Like a Girl
Fregola sarda with zucchini and pine nuts, from Chocolate & Zucchini
Fregola pudding, from Tri to Cook
Fregola sarda with roasted vegetables and wild garlic pesto, from Food Stories
Fregola sarda with eggplant and walnuts, from Rosa Jackson
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