Welcome to episode 2 of my series, Let's Cook Italy.
In this episode, we are venturing to the beautiful Island of Sardinia. Sardinia is the second largest Island found west of Italy. Surrounded by the Tyrrhenian and Mediterranean Seas, it is renowned for its beautiful beaches, turquoise seas and amazing rock formations.
This beautiful island is home to some of the most fascinating dishes, including Porcheddu, Zuppa Gallurese and this fantastic dish called Fregola con Arselle. Fregola is a traditional Sardinian ingredient made of durum wheat pasta. It is formed into tiny pearls and then toasted. This gives each pearl a unique texture and colour.
Fregola con Arselle is fresh vongole cooked with garlic, white wine, tomatoes, and parsley simmered in a flavoured broth. You can either serve this dish quite soupy like this, or you can allow the fregola to soak up all that beautiful broth. Either way, it is one of the most delicious dishes I’ve made in a long time. The full recipe is up on the website.
Fregola con Arselle - Makes 4 to 6
1.1kg fresh vongole, rinsed well until the water becomes clear
250g fregola pasta
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups of passata
120ml dry white wine
1 litre fish stock
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, small, finely chopped
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Place the vongole in cold water and rinse them 2 to 3 times thoroughly under cold water. Drain well and set aside.
Pour 2 tbsp of olive oil into a large pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the vongole and pour in the wine. Stir well and cover with a lid, steaming them for 4-5 minutes until the vongole have opened. Turn off the heat, remove the vongole from the pan and reserve the juices.
Remove 2-3 of the vongole from their shells and reserve the rest in their shells for garnish. Discard which are crushed and have not opened.
Pour the remaining oil and garlic back into the pan and cook for 2 minutes over medium heat. Stir in the parsley and tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes until the tomato paste has been cooked down and turns a deep red.
Add a splash of white wine to deglaze the pan and then stir in the fregola. Toast for one minute, stirring often until the fregola is completely coated. Add passata, vongole juice, and fish stock to help loosen up the mixture. Season well with pepper and a little salt and stir well to combine.
Cover and simmer until the fregola is al-dente, about 15-20 minutes. Fregola absorbs lots of liquid so you may need to add more fish stock or water during the cooking process. This will ensure a soup-like consistency. In the last 5 minutes of cooking stir in the cooked vongole.
Serve in bowls, topped with remaining shelled vongole, fresh parsley and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Buon Appetito! x