6 Tips From The Chef To Discover The Sardinian Fregula Pasta 0 Comments
A real delicacy from the rich and ancient handmade Pasta tradition of Sardinia Island, Fregula Pasta (Sa Fregula in Sardinian - also wrongly and commonly spelt Fregola in Italian) has a very ancient story that we know of.
The name might come from the Latin word ferculum which means “crumble”, and even though it might resemble the more famous Maghrebi couscous, experts say they have no common origins, as it might be an invention made on the Island, or it could also be the result of cultural exchanges with the Phoenicians, Punic and Carthaginians.
The island tradition wants Fregula pasta to be cooked in a soup, the Italian Minestra, mainly prepared in sheep broth and seasoned with fresh sour sheep's cheese, which is a main product of Sardinia.
Sardinian Chef Daniele Sechi, who has been working at the Gabbiano Azzurro Hotel & Suites and the awarded Blu Restaurant in Golfo Aranci since 2011) favours Fregula to be cooked like risotto. His recipe is our most famous and sought for must-try for all Guests and Visitors, whether they are locals or not.
Here are 10 tips from the Chef to discover the real Fregula and to learn how to cook it:
TYPES OF FREGOLA: these tiny grains of durum wheat semolina flour can be modelled in 3 sizes, small, medium and large. The SMALL size is perfect for soups, excellent for example with a clam broth. The MEDIUM size is excellent to cook as risotto. And the LARGE version can be used in the preparation of summer salads, mixed with fresh vegetables and personalized adding your favourite proteins. Our Chef Daniele Sechi mainly uses the MEDIUM size.
THREE COLOURS OF FREGULA: there are 3 colours of Fregula. The white one, the mixed one that presents grains from golden to red, to bronze which are mixed together, and the rarest black version, whose colouring can derive from the squid ink, or from the finest processing at 34 degrees with a delicate charcoal powder, which is the version that Chef Daniele Sechi prefers for the Blù Restaurant.
HOW TO RECOGNIZE A GOOD FREGOLA: there are many brands and many quality levels. If like Daniele Sechi, you are looking for excellence, you will find it in the grains that are irregular and porous (this is how the Fregula of artisan quality appears) and which must not have been toasted.
THE BEST WAYS TO COOK IT: traditionally, Fregula has always been cooked in soups, either with vegetable, meat or fish broth. The crustacean soup is a delicious version that can be found in many restaurants in Golfo Aranci, thanks to the fishing vocation of this beautiful seaside village. Chef Daniele Sechi prefers a more modern version of Fregula, prepared with the same procedure as a Risotto (in this video the Chef explains step by step how to prepare a wonderful risotto). At the Blù Restaurant, Fregula is always present on the menu, very often in the precious black version, from a long and refined procedure that includes the use of vegetable charcoal. The Chef prefers seasonal combinations, with refined and precious ingredients such as purple prawns or fresh burrata, or even local asparagus or mussels from our sea.
FOR ALL DIETARY NEEDS: Fregula is a perfect solution for all dietary needs. It is made with durum wheat semolina flour, water and salt, and sometimes it is finally toasted in the oven. For vegans, it can be successfully prepared with a tasty vegetable broth (the Chef recommends adding turmeric to your broth, as explained in this video) and with the addition of seasonal vegetables according to your preferences, for example, artichokes, or aubergines and dried or fresh tomatoes, and fresh herbs as a must. With the addition of Parmesan cheese and fresh Crescenza cheese in the final mantecatura phase, it becomes an excellent first course for vegetarians, while in the hinterland of Sardinia you might find a magnificent version with fresh sausage from local pork, for a more typical flavour.
A PERFECT MATCH: as a famous Sardinian first course, the Fregula is very often combined with another fine Sardinian speciality: the Golden Caviar of Sardinia, Bottarga. This very unique and expensive product adds character to the uniqueness of this pasta and will give you the opportunity to taste two great specialities of Sardinian gastronomy and the island's food culture.
Enjoy experimenting with Fregula, buy some when you visit Sardinia and bring it back home to surprise your family and friends with a very versatile and yet unique pasta.
If you wish to learn more about Fregula and all other pasta specialities from Sardinia, we recommend the book by Sardinian Author and Expert of history of Sardinian gastronomy Mr Giovanni Fancello: “Pasta – storia ed avventure di un cibo tra Sardegna e Mediterraneo”.
In the photo, a Fregula dish from our Blu Restaurant menu.