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Sardinian Fregola with Clams

This dish is typical in Sardinia, and boasts fregola pasta, as well as clams, garlic and sherry (or Marsala wine if you prefer) to make a full-flavored and satisfying dinner. Fregola, which is sometimes spelt fregula, is similar to pearl couscous. This Sardinian pasta is made of semolina dough (like couscous) and it comes in 3 sizes. Simmering it in a tomato sauce with shellfish like clams and mussels is a typical preparation method.

What is Fregola Pasta?

Fregola pasta is typical in Southwest Sardinia, after being introduced by Tunisian immigrants to Italy. Fregola is toasted which makes it slightly nutty. It is grainier than couscous, and can be served as a side dish or combined with seafood or meat, and some kind of sauce, to make an entrée. Visit an Italian deli or order it online if your regular grocery store does not stock it. Nearly all the brands of fregola are imported from Italy and because it is dried you can buy it in bulk if that works out cheaper. Fregola is simmered on a low heat so it can absorb the water and soften.

Serve the cooked fregola cold in a baby leaf salad, use it to stuff pita bread, adding chicken and your favorite dressing, or combine it with yogurt and some chopped fresh herbs to make a stuffing for tomatoes. In the following recipe the fregola pasta is cooked with sherry, garlic and clams, as well as chicken stock and parsley. The recipe makes an elegant entrée if you are in the mood for seafood.

Shellfish Fregola with Parsley
Summary: Fregola pasta and clams combine with sherry, parsley and garlic here. The resulting dish is a sophisticated and typically Sardinian meal which offers the most incredible fresh flavors.
Cuisine: Italian
Recipe type: Pasta
Serves: 4
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup dry sherry
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 24 cleaned littleneck clams
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 chopped onion
  • ¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lb fregola pasta
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  1. Bring the water and chicken stock to a boil in a pot over a high heat.
  2. Add a tablespoon of salt and the fregola pasta.
  3. Cook for 10 minutes or until tender but still firm.
  4. Stir the pasta occasionally while it cooks.
  5. Drain off any water, or add more if it dries out before it is fully cooked.
  6. While the pasta cooks, heat ¼ cup of oil in a pot.
  7. Add the onion, some salt and black pepper, and cook for 6 minutes or until tender.
  8. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  9. Add the sherry and cook for 1 minute.
  10. Use a wooden spoon to scrape any brown bits off the bottom of the pan.
  11. Add the clams.
  12. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for 6 minutes or until the clams open.
  13. Discard any which do not open.
  14. Remove the clams from the pan and set them to one side.
  15. Drain the pasta and put it in a serving dish.
  16. Pour the cooking liquid from the clams over the pasta.
  17. Add the rest of the olive oil and half the pasta, and toss.
  18. Put the reserved clams on top of the pasta and garnish with the other half of the parsley.

Photo Description:

This special dish is popular on the Italian island of Sardinia, which is the second largest island in the Mediterranean, and party of Italy. Fregola is a special kind of pasta, while clams, known in Italy as vongole, go very nicely with it. Add sherry, parsley and garlic, and the resulting entrée combines sophistication with simplicity. Use half clams half mussels if you prefer. The photo shows how gorgeous the finished dish is going to look. This will introduce a distinctive taste of Sardinia to your dinner table, and you can serve this with garlic bread and a mixed baby leaf salad to round out the meal.


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Christine Szalay-Kudra

Hi I'm Christine, and I am happy you are visiting. Food is a large part of our family's lives, and we love to try new dishes, especially Italian food which offers so much freshness and flavor, whether you are making a classic Italian dish like lasagna or pizza, or experimenting with new appetizers, entrées or desserts from Italy.

Even if you are brand new to this cuisine, you will be able to find all kinds of tempting recipes here. I have been collecting classic Italian recipes, all conveniently in one place, along with unusual recipes from Italy plus some dishes inspired by Italian cuisine.

When the weather is cold, a baked pasta dish or juicy pork or veal recipe might be ideal. During the summer months, an Italian salad might be your dish of choice. We have vegetarian recipes, Italian soups, and even tips on how to work with Italian ingredients for the best results, whether you are making lasagna, gnocchi or an Italian casserole


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