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Fregola with Shrimp and Tomatoes

4 Servings

1 hour 10 minutes

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This is our simplified version of the fregola with seafood and tomato sauce taught to us by chef Francesco Pinna at Trattoria Lillicu in Sardinia. Cooking the pasta in chicken broth and bottled clam juice that were first simmered with shrimp shells adds deep complexity without calling for a lengthy ingredient list. If your shrimp already are shelled, remove the tails and use those to infuse the liquid. And if you have trouble finding fregola, an equal amount of toasted pearl couscous is a good stand-in; see p. 18 for toasting instructions. You'll also need to reduce the chicken broth to only 2 cups. And after cooking the fregola for 8 to 10 minutes following the second addition of shrimp-infused broth, remove the pot from the heat before adding the shrimp.




Don't fully cook the shrimp when browning them. They'll be only parcooked when they come out of the pot, but will finish in the residual heat of the fregola. After adding the shrimp to the fregola, don't forget to cover the pot, as this traps heat for cooking the shrimp.

1 hour 10 minutes


  • pounds extra-large (21/25 per pound) shrimp, peeled (shells reserved), deveined and patted dry

  • 2

    8-ounce bottles clam juice


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Anne B.
September 2, 2022
Trader joe grain
This is my second time making this dish and I use from trader joe there multi mix grain because I can not find fregola and I must say it’s delicious
Jett P.
July 31, 2022
Summertime stew: what a treat!
This was a lovely little stew to enjoy while watching the summer storms roll in. I made the fregola from scratch as described in the article, and it the toasted earthiness and lovely chewiness was reminiscent of pearled barley - my recommendation for who would have to special order semolina, fregola, or pearled couscous otherwise. I kept sneaking bites as it simmered, it was so yummy, but my tomatoes were very tart so I’d also recommend cooks taste before adding the lemon juice at the end. I’m off to sneak a bite from the leftovers!
Lynn S.

I’ve made this dish about 5 times - it is amazing. I had trouble finding fregola locally so I had to order it online, but it’s worth it. The recipe has several steps and requires attention, but there’s a payoff in the end - a superflavorful lemon-y comforting dish with perfectly cooked shrimp. One step I don’t bother with is halving the cherry tomatoes - they fall apart during the long cooking time whole or halved.

Jovanna K.

Great recipe! Tastes even better the next day. Added some hot pepper flakes for some heat, and a bit more lemon juice. Used the fregola from Milk Street which was very good.

Wendy P.

I wish the recipe (and others as well) would be a bit more specific about the pot to be used. I'm often confused by what some of the terms really mean pan/pot/saute pan/straight sided pan and the best size to use.

Wendy P.

Update: Made this tonight, just a half a recipe. It was very meh. Never again.

Lynn C.

Hi Wendy -

For some recipes, the pot isn't as important as in other recipes, so we don't get as specific. For this recipe a large saucepan or Dutch oven would work fine.

The Milk Street Team

Ramona W.

Made Fregola with Shrimp and Tomatoes for dinner tonight, it was a big hit. Layers of flavor in one pot meal. Thanks for the recipe! Mine came out more creamy like risotto, I put pictures up on MS facebook page. It was so good.

Kathy M.

Would like to make this for a pescatarian friend who does not eat meat. And I don’t care for clam juice. Wonder if I could amp up the flavor by sautéing shrimp shells from the shrimp, and if that might be enough flavor. Maybe add a tiny bit of wine to deglaze.

Lynn C.

Hi Kathy -

We would recommend following the recipe using a homemade (or trusted store-bought) vegetable broth. The small amount of shrimp shells here isn't enough to really flavor water in the amount called for in the recipe (1 1/2 lbs. shrimp shells: 5 cups of water). We found we had to use broth, clam juice *and* the shrimp shells as opposed to just water to get a really flavorful dish.

The Milk Street Team