You are probably wondering "What the heck is fregola?!" Fregola is a type of pasta (little round balls, similar in size to Israeli couscous) that's been toasted to give it a slightly nutty flavor. It's origins are unknown, but it's popular in Sardinia, an Italian island in the Mediterranean Sea.
I found some at a local Italian market, bought it without knowing what to do with it, and kept it 6 months in the cupboard. Then one day I was watching an episode of Secrets of a Restaurant Chef on the Food Network and a recipe featuring fregola. I made it that night and it was delicious! So here is my adapted version of Ann Burrell's recipe. This is a perfect, hardy stew-like dish for a cold winter night.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 28 ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes, drained and diced
- 2 cups butternut squash, diced
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 1/2 cups fregola
- 1 bunch of chives, finely chopped
- Heat olive oil in a large pan. Add onions, season with salt, and add a pinch of red pepper flakes. Saute until the onions are translucent. Add garlic and saute for another minute.
- Add tomatoes, butternut squash, and the stock. Add a cup or 2 of water if needed- you want the liquid to half way cover the onion, tomato, and squash mixture. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
- Cook for about 20-30 minutes, or until the squash is soft and most of the liquid is absorbed/evaporated.
- Bring a pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the fregola and cook according to package directions, but about 1-2 minutes less as you want the pasta to be al dente.
- Strain and add to the pan of onion, tomato, and squash. Stir well and add more stock or water if the mixture is dry, or cook longer if it's too soupy. When done, it should be stew-like. Stir in the chives and season with more salt if needed.
- Serve in bowls with a crusty bread. I like mine topped with nutritional yeast too!