Fregola is Sardinian pasta. But it's not your classic pasta. It's not like fusilli, penne, pappardelle or rigatoni. Instead it is little pellets of lusciousness. It looks like couscous, kind of the cousin to Israeli couscous but the flavor and texture of Israeli couscous can't compete with fregola. It's made of semolina and the little pellets vary in color. Some are white, some are golden and some are light brown due to toasting. In the end, it tastes nutty and wheaty and slightly toasted. It cooks quickly and is is the best comfort food.
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© Photo by Tim Bellan
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FREGOLA, CLAMS AND TOMATOES
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups fregola, about 16 ounces
2 peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned
Pinch of crushed red pepper
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 cups chicken stock
Kosher sea and freshly ground black pepper
Place the clams and the water in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Cover the pan and cook until the shells open, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the clams with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Let the clams cool 5 minutes. Discard any clams that do not open. Shuck all but 10 clams and reserve. Discard the shells and reserve the steaming liquid.
In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil and add the garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the garlic is light golden, 1 minute. Add the fregola to the pan and stir to coat the grains well with the olive oil, 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, crushed red pepper flakes, 2 tablespoons of the parsley, chicken stock and reserved clam juice. Stir together. Simmer slowly until the fregola is double in size and firm to the bite but cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes.
Just before serving, add the clams and stir together. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the fregola to a deep serving platter. Garnish with the reserved clams in their shells and sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon parsley on top. Serve immediately.