One of the cooking magazines I subscribe to is the magazine of La Cucina Italiana. It's become one of my favorites over the years and all the recipes I've made from it have been consistently good.
Recently, a friend gifted me with a basket of various kitchen gadgets and food goods. Included in the basket were two bags of fregola, a typical Sardinian pasta. Somewhere I had read and heard about fregola, but had never tried it. As I flipped through my cookbooks I found little in the way of recipes, other than an additive to soups. One book indicated fregola is a pasta made from semolina flour, and appears to look like a somewhat larger version of couscous--but the dough is hand rolled into balls and then lightly toasted, giving it a nutty flavor. I'm just sorry that I never tasted it sooner because it was wonderful. Move over couscous, you've been replaced!
I began this dish much like how I make risotto, and pretty much the way I cook--seldom measuring much, and began with a soffrito of sauteed minced onion, carrot, celery and anchiove paste in some olive oil. To this I added half cup white wine, 14 oz of chicken stock along with approximately 8 oz of fregola and gave it a few stirs. This I let simmer covered until the fregola cooked until just about aldente. As this simmered, in another pan I sauteed in olive oil three cloves minced garlic, with 1 1/2 lbs fresh shrimp until just pink and because I had extra on hand I added some fresh zucchini pieces along with roasted tomatoes along with a bit of chopped kale. A bit of ground pepper, and a few chopped sprigs of fresh thyme, rosemary and basil. I find that the anchiove plus shrimp is salt enough, so omitted it from my recipe.
Once the shrimp were done, I combined it to the fregola pot, stirred and added in some freshly grated pecorino cheese. I purposely left a bit of the stock in my pot and not all abosorbed by the fregola, and yet I didn't want to end up with a bowl of soup either, but do enjoy the addition of a crusty bread to a meal like this to sop up those wonderful flavors of the broth. It turned out just right to my liking..as there was very little if any leftovers.
A few days later, I was clearing out some older magazine additions. One issue dating back to 2003 had three recipes using fregola.. one with seared scallops, one with clams, and a delicious sounding cannelini bean and fregola soup that I'm now anxious to try, especially on days like today when our temps dipped to -10 and we woke to find our kitchen pipes had frozen overnight :( Not a happy camper here today. So I am on the hunt now for any recipes that include this very tasty pasta. If anyone has one, could you send it my way please? Thanks! Enjoy!