Fregola Sarda

Amy_ronnie_fregola_028_2

 

Fregola
Sarda

No,
it’s not a curse from the new Harry Potter book (doesn’t it sound like one,
though? “Harry pointed his wand at
the robed figure that launched itself from the shadows and hollered ‘Fregola
Sarda,’ just as the green light hit him and the world shattered into small
pieces of pasta.”)

Anyway,
it’s not. Sorry. Guess I am getting antsy for
July 21.

Fergola
sarda is pasta – Italian couscous to be precise, made by rubbing tiny grains of
semolina together with a bit of water, toasting them, rubbing them together
again, toasting them again, and so on until you end up with tiny pasta balls
that look like Israeli couscous, but more pebbly and less smooth and all kinds
of gorgeous toasty hues.

I’d
never heard of the stuff before. It was
a gift from Judy Schad of Capriole Farm who makes some of the most delicious goat
cheese I have ever had (and I have had some great goat cheeses!)  I interviewed her on her farm in southern
Indiana for a book I am working on (we stopped there on our way down here to
Florida) and because that lady has one generous and impulsive heart, I came
away not only with a sack of goat cheeses, but a package of fregola sarda, and
several books. Not bad for a morning’s
work.

But
how to prepare fregola sarda? Hadn’t a
clue. It looks like it would lend itself to risotto-like treatment, or maybe
soup, but I googled around to see what
recipes there were and the hands down favorite way to prepare fregola sarda
seems to be with clams. That’s what they
do in  Sardinia, anyway, which is where this unusual pasta hails from.

Well,
here I am in Clamland, so before heading down to Palm Harbor to spend a weekend
reuning with high school friends and their husbands (including Ronnie at Around
the Table
), we stopped at Island View Seafood in Eastpoint and loaded up the
cooler with Alligator Point clams (and Apalachicola bay oysters and wild gulf shrimp for good measure.)

Saturday
night I drew kitchen duty, so I looked over about six internet recipes for
Sardinian Clams with Fregola and settled on a variation of this:

Scrub
4 dozen clams and set aside. Heat ½ cup
of good olive oil in a large, heavy pot, and sauté 3 cloves of garlic, minced,
8 plum tomatoes, chopped, a healthy pinch of red pepper flakes, and a couple of
grindings of black pepper. When the garlic is softened but not browned add 1
cup of white wine and ¼ cup chopped parsley and simmer for five minutes.

Add
clams to the simmering wine in a single layer and cover with a tight fitting
lid (unless you are using the world’s biggest pan you will probably have to do
this in two batches.) In about 10
minutes most of the clam shells will have popped open. Check periodically and as they open, scoop
them out with a slotted spoon and set aside in a wide bowl that can catch all
the juices. When all the clams have
opened, add the second batch (discard any shells that refuse to open –these
clams are bad and you don’t want to eat them.)

When
all the clams are cooked and reserved to the bowl, add 4 cups of chicken broth
to the intense clam broth in the pot and bring to a boil. Pour in 2 cups of fregola pasta (slowly, so
you don’t lose the boil.) Cook, stirring
occasionally, until the pasta is done. This took a lot of tasting on my part since I had never done this before
and didn’t know what “done” looked or tasted like. (Overall, I cooked it about 15-20
minutes. Much of the broth had been
absorbed and the pasta was tender but firm to the bite, and had a toasty
flavor.)

Adjust
the seasonings. I had added salt
earlier, but this was probably a mistake since the clams are salty and so was
the chicken broth I used. Another time I
will add salt at the end, if necessary.

Add
the clams back into the brothy pasta to heat, then serve in shallow bowls. Serves six as a substantial first course.

Fabulous.

(If
you don’t have a generous friend to provide you with fregola, you can order it here.
I have not done so although I have had good luck with igourmet in the past.)

Amy_ronnie_fregola_021

10 Comments Add yours

  1. Ronnie says:

    What a great opening line! This dinner truly typified the tag line for your blog:good food (and it was good) is better shared. It was a fantastic weekend and I love sharing a kitchen (and table) with you.

    Like

  2. Lydia says:

    I’ve seen fregola on menus but never got around to ordering it, so I’m glad to have this recipe. Will definitely check in the Italian markets here in Providence to see if they carry this grain. And I live in clamland, too!

    Like

  3. Cynthia says:

    You’re so lucky!

    Like

  4. Nora says:

    I’ve never heard of fregola sarda before, so thanks for enlightening me. I will hunt for it next time I am at the Italian grocers – you’ve made me verrry curious.

    Like

  5. Alanna says:

    Okay, so maybe you’re in line to write the NEXT Harry Potter books? And serve supper too …

    Like

  6. Ronnie — it was a great, great weekend and we thank you and Evan.
    Lydia, I’ll be interested to hear if your markets carry it. Looks like mail order is the only way I can get it.
    Yeah, Cynthia, you think? 🙂
    Nora, I had never heard of it either. Hope you can find it locally.
    Don’t I wish, Alanna. Don’t I wish.

    Like

  7. Susan says:

    Another great summer seafood recipe. Beautiful photos.

    Like

  8. You and Ronnie went to h.s. together? What a small world! Thanks for mentioning igourmet. I’ll be checking it out later.

    Like

  9. Kristen says:

    What a delicious and sophisticated looking dish.

    Like

  10. Thank you, Susan. Summer and seafood do go together!
    Yeah, Susan, we’ve known each other since we were in 9th grade. Cute, huh?
    It was definitely delicious, Kristen. Now I just have to get some more of that pasta!

    Like

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