Fregula is a small and toasted semolina pasta that comes to Sardinia from the salty and spicy North African cuisine of the “Maghreb” region. Maghreb (formally known as the Barbary Coast) is most of the region of western North Africa, west of Egypt. Fregula was imported to Sardinia by explorers from Liguria (a coastal region of Northwest Italy) through the Island of San Pietro. Although it is North African in origin, fregula is now part of traditional Sardinian cuisine.
The name “Fregula” comes from the latin word “fricare”, which means “to crumble”. That is precisely what fregula looks like: little bits of crumbled home made pasta. It is similar in appearance to Israeli couscous. The fregula sold here at Gourmet Sardinia is toasted twice, to give it a unique flavor and texture when cooked. Fregula has a nutty flavor that comes from this toasting process. Toasting the pasta also allows it to hold up better than many other pastas when cooked.
Like risotto, the fregula will absorb the flavors of whatever you choose to cook it with. A fresh variation on risotto that uses fregula is our recipe for Summer Sardinian couscous with Fresh Vegetables. Since making risotto with fregula takes less time than using traditional rice, this makes a wonderful weeknight meal. Fregula can be used as a side dish or pasta by boiling, covered with a 1:1 ratio of liquid (water or any broth). Toss it with your favorite vegetables and herbs. A pasta salad made with fregula and vegetables is an easy and delicious Summer meal.