Medium60 min4 ServesMedium


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Fregola is a peculiar pasta shape at the heart of Sardinia’s culinary heritage. 

Handmade using only semolina flour and water, then toasted in a wood-fire oven – from which it gets its unique, multi-colored appearance – it resembles pearl couscous in shape and texture. One of the main differences is that couscous is usually steamed and fregola is often toasted first and then cooked in the broth of the recipe or like rice in a risotto.

Fregola’s most traditional pairing is with clams, particularly with a local variety of clams called arselle.  

Arselles are tiny clams that live under the sand right on the shoreline. However, any variety of local clams will work just as well for this recipe.

This pasta can be dressed not only with seafood but with vegetables or meats as well with tomatoes or tomato sauce; with sun-dried tomatoes, served on a bed of pane carasau (the local flatbread) and so on.

Here you will find the typical Sardinian recipe of fregola with clams.

Let’s find out how to prepare this dish

Fregola 250g
Fresh clams (as small as you can find them)750g
White wineA bit
Canned tomatoes250g
 Fish stock or well-seasoned water1 liter
Garlic 3 or 4 cloves
Olive OilAs required
Fresh parsleyA handful
Salt and pepper To taste

Preparation method

  • Purge the clams and soak them in water for at least an hour before cooking.
  • In a large pot, lightly brown 1 or 2 cloves of garlic in some olive oil. Remove the garlic cloves and add the clams, along with a splash of white wine. Cover immediately and cook over a lively flame until all of the clams have open.Then take out the clams and remove the meat from their shells. Leave a few clams in their shells to decorate your final dish.
  • Keep the juices in the pot for later.
  • Make a soffritto of finely chopped parsley with a clove or two of garlic gently sautéed in a generous amount of olive oil. Add the canned tomatoes and simmer for a few minutes to let the flavors meld.
  • Add the fish stock or if you don’t want to prepare it, you can add well-seasoned water with different herbs and white wine to the tomato sauce.

Tip: Fumetto di Pesce is quick and easy to make. First simmer a fish carcass .Then heat, bones and tail, or just a head or the shells from shrimp, lobster or crabs ,in enough water  with sliced onion, a sprig of fresh parsley, and a chopped stalk of celery and ample salt, for about 30 minutes. 

  • In a large pot, heat a little oil and add the fregola. Toast for some minutes and then add it (the fregola and the juices from the clams) to the tomato sauce. 
  • Raise the heat until it has reached a low boiling point. At first, it will seem to have have too much liquid, but don’t worry: it absorbs a lot of liquid. You will soon see that the fregola will absorb most of the liquid, if not all of it. In fact, you’ll probably need to add water from time to time; the pasta should be covered with liquid until it is  almost ready; then let it cook to your liking. 
  • Proceed with the cooking as if it were a risotto. When the fregola is almost cooked for approximately 10 minutes, add the seafood and finish cooking. Add a drizzle of raw oil, mix and turn off the heat. Leave to rest for a couple of minutes in the pot.
  • Serve by completing with the clams in their shell and a handful of finely chopped parsley.

Enjoy this delicious dish and feel as if you were eating it in Sardinia!

If you want to buy Sardinian fregola pasta, it can be found online, on Aim.store.

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