Fregola, also called fregula or freula, is a typical Sardinian pasta; it was imported by the Ligurian immigrants from the Genoese colony of Tabarka in Tunisia. In fact, the shape resembles that of African couscous, consisting of small balls with a diameter between 2 and 6 millimeters. This type of pasta is prepared with semolina flour and water. After drying, it is roasted in the oven to obtain its golden hue. If you’ve never tasted fregola, I would recommend it!
A typical recipe is with tomato sauce and baby clams (arselle). It’s also good in soups or with vegetable sauces. I love vegetables, therefore one of my favorite recipes is with eggplant (see also melanzane alla parmigiana). It is a nutrious vegeratian dish. For a lighter and healthier version, I suggest that you replace fried eggplant with grilled eggplant; of course, the taste won’t be quite the same. Fried food always seems more appetizing!
FREGOLA CON MELANZANE (FREGOLA WITH EGGPLANT)
200 g (7 oz) fregola, typical pasta from Sardinia
450 g (1 pound) eggplant
450 g (1 pound) Romano tomatoes, diced
20 g (1 tablespoon) capers (sotto sale, preserved in salt)
30 g (2 tablespoons) green olives, pitted and sliced
2 cloves of garlic
6 tablespoons olive oil (extra virgin)
Fresh basil leaves
Pecorino cheese to taste
1. Wash and dry eggplant. Cut off the stems and cut into cubes of about 2-3 cm (about 1 inch)
2. In a pan sauté garlic in oil. When garlic is golden, remove it and add eggplant. Cook for about 10-15 min. over moderate heat, stirring with a wooden spoon
3. Meanwhile, boil the water for the pasta in a pot (about 4 cups). Add salt according to your taste and cook. The cooking time is approximately 12 min. However, you should check the instructions on the package
4. When eggplant is ready, add tomatoes and cook for an additional 3-4 min.
5. At the end, add capers, previously washed under running water to remove salt, and olives. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm
6. Drain pasta and serve with the eggplant sauce. Garnish with some basil leaves and season with grated pecorino cheese. Serve warm. – Paola