Recipe from Joanne Weir’s Cooking Confidence by Joanne Weir (Taunton Press, 2012)Fregola is a type of pasta that's shaped like small beads and could be mistaken for Israeli couscous. Rather than boiling the pasta in salted water, fregola is prepared in a manner similar to rice. Here, it is "toasted" with olive oil and garlic, then simmered with diced tomatoes, chicken stock, and clam juice. The resulting pasta has a texture and flavor similar to couscous. If you can't find fregola, Israeli couscous is a good substitute.
- 3 pounds fresh Manila clams, scrubbed and rinsed well
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups fregola (about 16 ounces)
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped (fresh or canned)
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
3 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 cups chicken stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Serves 61. Place the clams and 2 Tbs. of 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 (discard any that don't open). Let the clams cool for 5 minutes. Shuck all but 10 clams and reserve in a separate bowl; discard the shells. Set aside the 10 clams, and reserve the steaming liquid.
2. In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm the 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 oil, 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, 2 Tbs. of the parsley, the chicken stock, and the reserved clam juice and stir together. Simmer uncovered until the fregola is double in size and firm to the bite but cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes.
3. Just before serving, add the shucked 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 Tbs. parsley on top.
In the Pantry Fregola: Fregola, or Sardinian pasta, is similar to Israeli couscous. To make it, semolina dough is rolled into tiny balls and toasted in the oven, hence the golden color and nutty flavor. Made of wheat, it's simple to cook and has a delicate texture. You can find it in Italian markets or well-stocked grocery stores. Uncooked fregola will keep, tightly sealed, in a dry place for at least 6 months.
Serving Suggestions: Wine pairing: Greco or Fiano
As a first course, make a tomato soup flavored with orange.
For dessert, serve strawberries and raspberries drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar.