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Sardinia's nutty, chewy fregola pasta pairs perfectly with fresh herbs and seafood
Milk Street Bowtie Fregola with Herbs and Pecorino

Fregola with Herbs and Pecorino

1 hour

Fregola with Herbs and Pecorino

Free

This recipe cooks fregola, the small, round pasta of Sardinia, similar to risotto, adding liquid in multiple additions. This gives the grain-like pasta a thick, creamy consistency. Fregola likely requires a trip to the Italian grocery or specialty store. If you have trouble finding it, an equal amount of toasted pearl couscous is a good stand-in; see steps for toasting instructions. Also reduce the amount of chicken broth to 4 cups, adding it in two additions of 2 cups each. After cooking for 8 to 10 minutes following the second addition of broth, cooking is done; remove the pot from the heat and let stand, uncovered, for 4 minutes.

½ cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
2 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, finely chopped
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
4 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, ground
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup fregola (see note)
½ cup dry white wine
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
2 ounces pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated (1 cup)
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Ground black pepper
Ingredients
  • ½

    cup sliced almonds

  • 2

    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve

  • 2

    ounces thinly sliced pancetta, finely chopped

  • 1

    small yellow onion, finely chopped

  • 4

    medium garlic cloves, finely grated

  • 1

    tablespoon fennel seeds, ground

  • ½

    teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 1

    cup fregola (see note)

  • ½

    cup dry white wine

  • 5

    cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided

  • 2

    ounces pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated (1 cup)

  • ¼

    cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • ¼

    cup chopped fresh basil

  • ¼

    cup chopped fresh mint

  • 1

    tablespoon lemon juice

  • Ground black pepper

Directions
  1. 01
    In a large pot over medium, toast the almonds, stirring often, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small plate, let cool, then roughly chop; set aside.
    See Demo
    herbs-pecorino-fregola-step-1
  2. 02
    In the same pot over medium, combine the oil and pancetta, then cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, fennel seeds, pepper flakes and fregola, then cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced to a syrup, 2 to 4 minutes.
    See Demo
    herbs-pecorino-fregola-step-2
  3. 03
    Stir in 2 cups of broth. Bring to a simmer over medium-high and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has been absorbed, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in another 2 cups broth and cook, stirring, until most of the liquid has been absorbed, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 cup broth and cook, stirring constantly, until the fregola is tender and the mixture is creamy but not soupy, another 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand uncovered until slightly thickened, about 4 minutes.
    See Demo
    herbs-pecorino-fregola-step-3
  4. 04
    Stir in half the pecorino all but a couple tablespoons of each herb, the lemon juice and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Divide among serving bowls, then sprinkle with the almonds, remaining herbs and additional oil.
    See Demo
    herbs-pecorino-fregola-step-4
  5. 05
    Pearl couscous, sometimes called Israeli couscous, makes an acceptable substitute for Sardinian fregola, but it must be toasted. To toast, put the couscous in a dry, large pot (the same one you'll later use to cook the dish). Cook over medium, stirring often, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Even after toasting, the couscous will absorb liquid differently than fregola, so be sure to adjust the broth as directed in the recipe notes.
Tip: Don't use regular chicken broth or the dish may be too salty; low-sodium is best. Also, make sure to let the fregola stand for about 4 minutes before serving; the pasta absorbs additional liquid and sets up slightly.
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Fregola with Herbs and Pecorino

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4

Servings

1 hour

Tip

Don't use regular chicken broth or the dish may be too salty; low-sodium is best. Also, make sure to let the fregola stand for about 4 minutes before serving; the pasta absorbs additional liquid and sets up slightly.

Ingredients
  • ½

    cup sliced almonds

  • 2

    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve

  • 2

    ounces thinly sliced pancetta, finely chopped

  • 1

    small yellow onion, finely chopped

  • 4

    medium garlic cloves, finely grated

  • 1

    tablespoon fennel seeds, ground

  • ½

    teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 1

    cup fregola (see note)

  • ½

    cup dry white wine

  • 5

    cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided

  • 2

    ounces pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated (1 cup)

  • ¼

    cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • ¼

    cup chopped fresh basil

  • ¼

    cup chopped fresh mint

  • 1

    tablespoon lemon juice

  • Ground black pepper

Step 1 of 5

Toast Almonds

½
cup sliced almonds

In a large pot over medium, toast the almonds, stirring often, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small plate, let cool, then roughly chop; set aside.

Step 2 of 5

Combine Ingredients

2
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2
ounces thinly sliced pancetta, finely chopped
1
small yellow onion, finely chopped
4
medium garlic cloves, finely grated
1
tablespoon fennel seeds, ground
½
teaspoon red pepper flakes
1
cup fregola
½
cup dry white wine

In the same pot over medium, combine the oil and pancetta, then cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.


Stir in the garlic, fennel seeds, pepper flakes and fregola, then cook, stirring, until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced to a syrup, 2 to 4 minutes.

Step 3 of 5

Add Broth In Stages

5
cups low-sodium chicken broth

Stir in 2 cups of broth. Bring to a simmer over medium-high and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has been absorbed, 8 to 10 minutes.


Stir in another 2 cups broth and cook, stirring, until most of the liquid has been absorbed, 8 to 10 minutes.


Stir in the remaining 1 cup broth and cook, stirring constantly, until the fregola is tender and the mixture is creamy but not soupy, another 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand uncovered until slightly thickened, about 4 minutes.

Step 4 of 5

Add Finishing Touches

2
ounces pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated (1 cup)
¼
cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
¼
cup chopped fresh mint
¼
cup chopped fresh basil
1
tablespoon lemon juice
1
tablespoon ground black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil to serve

Stir in half the pecorino all but a couple tablespoons of each herb, the lemon juice and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Divide among serving bowls, then sprinkle with the almonds, remaining herbs and additional oil.

Step 5 of 5

Faux Fregola

Pearl couscous, sometimes called Israeli couscous, makes an acceptable substitute for Sardinian fregola, but it must be toasted. To toast, put the couscous in a dry, large pot (the same one you'll later use to cook the dish).


Cook over medium, stirring often, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Even after toasting, the couscous will absorb liquid differently than fregola, so be sure to adjust the broth as directed in the recipe notes.

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