Rose's August Shop Watch: Fregola
Marks and Spencer
Makes a great summer pasta salad
I first tasted fregola on holiday in Sardinia. It looks like giant couscous (and indeed does have its roots in a Moorish invasion) and was served with seafood, looking to all intents and purposes like a risotto. It was delicious – round pearls of pasta, which rolled around my tongue, a slightly nutty taste, and an intense flavour of the sea.
Fregola is made from a wheat semolina dough which is rolled into small balls (around 2-3 mm in diameter) and lightly toasted in the oven. In Sardinia it is often used in place of traditional pasta in dishes like minestrone, or pasta fagioli, or pasta in brodo (broth), but is most commonly eaten with seafood. This organic pasta only needs a short cooking time in boiling water and can then be drained and mixed with a pasta sauce, like tomato. But I like the chameleon quality of this pasta since you could initially be fooled into thinking you are eating a risotto or a couscous dish – until you taste it, that is. I have used a prawn stock to cook it in, adding the raw prawns towards the end, and a scattering of chopped parsley, which looked very much like my first fregola dish on Sardinia.
At this time of year it makes a wonderful light summery pasta salad. Cook it in boiling water until al dente, drain and put in a bowl and add a spoon of oil straight away to stop it sticking. Then mix it with cherry tomatoes, maybe a few olives and some basil with an oil and vinegar dressing – add some mozzarella too if you like. Or stir in some pesto with some cooked green beans; or some prawns, chopped avocado, spring onions and some rocket leaves and dress it with oil and lemon; or substitute fregola for macaroni in Delia’s Tuna and Pasta Salad; or (my favourite) is to treat it like a Moroccan salad and mix with preserved lemons, mint, roasted peppers, onions and olive oil.
Pearls of flavour
Fregola Bio from Pastaio di Nuoro
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Availability and price as at 1st August 2017