A friend recently gave me a gift of fregola (also called fregula), a typical Sardinian pasta very similar to Israeli couscous. I had heard of fregola, but had never eaten it—nor did I know any recipes for preparing it, so I dove into my cookbooks and surfed the internet for more information, finding this recipe for making fregola with sausage that intrigued me.
- 500g (1 lb) fregola
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 250g (1/2 lb) crumbled sausage meat
- Broth, q.b.
- Freshly grated pecorino sardo or pecorino romano cheese (optional)
You basically proceed as if you were making a risotto, starting with a soffritto of onion sautéed in olive oil. When the onion is translucent and quite soft, add the crumbled sausage meat and allow it to insaporire over moderate heat for a few minutes, until the sausage meat has lost its raw coloration without caramelizing.
Then add your fregola and allow it in turn to absorb the flavors of the onion and sausage for a minute or two.
Then add broth to cover and simmer, covered, until the fregula has absorbed all the broth and is cooked al dente.
Top with grated pecorino if you like and serve.
Fregola, as mentioned above, is a typically Sardinian pasta made from semolina flour reminiscent of large-grained Israeli couscous, with origins in Moorish cuisine. The semolina dough is rolled into small balls and lightly toasted, which gives it a pleasantly nutty flavor. If you haven’t tried it, it is definitely worth seeking out!
The best known fregula dish is fregola con arselle (the latter being tiny clams found on the beach but are rarely found these days—you can substitute small littlenecks or Manila clams). Fregula is also made with soup, in particular bean soups. This page on about.com has some other interesting fregula (and other Sardinian) recipes.
You can add a bit of peperoncino to your soffritto if you like a little heat. I later found this lovely sounding recipe for fregola with sausage and leek, a bit more involved than the one above.