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Fregula sarda (Recipe: fregula sarda with leeks and sausage)

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

From the pantry, you'll need: chicken stock, red pepper flakes, fregula sarda, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, parsley.

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.


4 leeks
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.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Vegetarian couscous with dried fruit
Shrimp, couscous, feta and herb salad with tomato vinaigrette
Sweet couscous
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

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


What a neat new kind of pasta! Where can you get it? I would love to try it out! Thanks for sharing!

leeks and sausage, favourite! I doubt I can find this fregola, but over orecchiette it will be wonderful, I bet.

this looks interesting- can't wait to try it. Thanks again for introducing something new to my pantry!

Another new thing you've taught me about!

I'm pretty sure I can find this here and I'm so curious to try it. It looks extremely versatile.

That is really exciting - only to a foodie maybe. But really hope I find this at Whole Food or Central Market tomorrow!!

I'm a huge fan of fregula sarda. I first tasted it last Spring at our favorite restaurant here in Brooklyn, and I turned around and tried to recreate the dish at home almost immediately. I'm actually planning to make it again in the next week or two, so this is fun timing. :)

Fascinating. Thank you for bringing this pasta to my attention. I've never heard of Fregula Sarda before but I think it might have gone nicely in a dish I had recently at one of my favorite restaurants.

I believe the dish was called Copper River Salmon with Orzo - it contained a wonderful array of salmon, orzo, roasted red peppers, marinated and sauteed mushrooms and pine nuts, but the orzo seemed too bland a complement to the rest of the flavors. Perhaps substituting the orzo with the nutty flavor of Fregula Sarda would have been a good alternative.

I've never tried fregula sarda - but I love any and every tiny grain that resembles pasta. Is it best found in Italian markets?

I've got to get some! Sounds so versatile.

I enjoyed reading your blog and I'm always eager to try something new. I've got to go out and get some of that stuff! I grocery shop the way some women shoe shop. It's a hobby of mine. Hope I can find room in my pantry for one more thing ...

Ginny, welcome to The Perfect Pantry. I found this at several Italian markets in Providence, but it's also available online. Hope you can find it.

Lobstersquad, if you can't find the fregula, try this with Israeli couscous or orzo.

Veron, I'm still experimenting with this -- it's delicious, and I'm sure you'll love it.

Kalyn, Susan, Nora: can't wait to see what you create with this! I'm sure I'll get some new ideas from you.

MyKitchen, Whole Foods is a good bet for this. Happy shopping!

Jennifer, I'll be watching for your recipe, too.

Sandie, it does sound like fregula would add a nice dimension to the salmon dish. Do try it, and let us know.

TW, I'm sure the wonderful Italian markets in NYC will have this; it's new to me, but certainly not new. I loved this the first time I tried it.

Michelle, welcome! Food shopping is a hobby of mine too, so I can tell you from personal experience that there is always room for one more thing!

I should have paid more attention when Lidia was making fregula on tv. I believe she just dried the shaggy pasta mass prior to the kneading stage. Hmmm...definitely not the cute little balls in the pic up above. Anyways the recipe looks delish!

Fregula is my new favorite grain. I love it with a paella-style sauce of shrimp and smoked paprika.

Interesting. I made a vegetable soup last night and was thinking it needed something. Now I know what!


My kind of food!!!!! Can't wait to find some.

Ooh... that looks wonderful and I'm very intrigued by fregula!

Callipygia, I'd love to Lidia making fregula; I think she is the very best teacher, so clear in her explanations. Occasionally someone will mistake me for her --I'm always flattered!

Karen, that sounds like such a wonderful combination, seafood and smoked paprika and fregula. Must try it!

AV, I made a soup last night, too -- used this in place of barley, with some mushrooms, lentils and spicy sausage.

Pauline, head for the Hill; that's where I found it.

Ann, this is a very versatile pasta; I'm sure you'll have fun playing with it.

What a great find, they look (and sound) very interesting, versatile too. I reckon I could catch a trout with one of them, they look a lot like the fish pellets trout farms give you as bait...mmm, pasta with trout!

Nice blog! Very unique and interesting recipes. First time here..will come back again and again, I am sure!

Neil, fish pellets?! I'm giggling. But with trout, now, that sounds delicious.

Pragyan, welcome to The Perfect Pantry. So glad you enjoyed your visit.

I've never heard of fregula before, but having read your description of it - I want it!! Wow! This looks scrumptious!

I just recently met fregola for the first time, and i really like him. :) Delicious recipe... will be trying it soon.

I saw that! Or at least something that looked a lot like that! I had no idea what it what so didn't buy it... Now I don't remember where it was.
Where do you always find such interesting stuff?!?

Toni, it's really worth searching for this, either online or in your local market. It's perfect for the kind of recipes you post about.

Susan, can't wait to see what wonderful things you create with fregula!

Katie, I'm so lucky to live near great ethnic markets. In Providence we have many Italian and Latino markets, and I'm close enough to Boston to take advantage of the Asian and Indian markets. The problem is where to put everything -- my pantry just keeps growing...

This recipe sounds delicious! I have fregula in my pantry (sorry, wrong post ;-) -- I bought it at an Italian specialty store, and I have been trying to figure out what to do with it. Now I know!

I may throw in some arugula or baby spinach - my latest attempt to get greens into my family. How do you think it would go with the recipe?

Judy, I think arugula, spinach or even kale would be great with this. The secret to getting greens into the family is to mix them in with things everyone already likes. This dish is pretty much irresistible!

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