Fregola is a type of Sardinian pasta made from semolina flour. It’s essentially the same product as the giant Middle Eastern couscous called moghrabieh, so you can use that in this recipe too. The small balls of pasta are around 2–3 mm and work well as a side. You could add a host of different leaves (spinach, chard, wild rocket and so on) to wilt in it just after it’s been cooked and drained. But this recipe, like the orzo, is relatively plain, so that it sits in the background as a quietly confident foil to more showy sides and things like marinated prawns, roast chicken, pretty much any fish, Mediterranean vegetables, labneh or soft cheese. There’s just a sprinkle of fresh mint and Parmesan at the end, which adds both freshness and a certain savoury depth without clashing with or overpowering anything that gets served alongside.
- 450 g fregola
- 1 finely grated lemon juice and zest
- 5–6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 20 g Parmesan, finely grated
- 6 stems mint leaves leaves, finely chopped
- Sea salt
- Bring a large pan of well-salted water to the boil. Add the fregola and cook for 9–12 minutes, until just al dente.
- Drain the fregola, reserving the cooking water, then return the fregola to the saucepan or a serving bowl (if using). Add 2–3 tablespoons of the cooking water, along with the lemon zest, juice, oil, Parmesan, mint and a pinch of salt. If your meal involves plentiful and flavoursome cooking juices you might consider adding these to the fregola in place of the cooking water. Stir well, taste to check the seasoning and serve immediately.
- You can leave this to cool to room temperature, but you’ll need to stir a little to loosen and de-clump the pasta before everyone tucks in.