Be honest, ladies. No matter how many little black dresses you have in your closet, you're still on the lookout for new and exciting ones, right? In the kitchen, we're constantly looking for those grains and pastas that go with everything but are still interesting all on their own. The latest and greatest pasta to join our pantry? Fregola.
This small, pellet-like pasta is frequently called "the Italian couscous," but it's much more than that. Made of semolina, fregola is dried in the sun, then toasted, giving it an appealing nutty flavor. It comes in several sizes, but is generally slightly larger than couscous. And when you add it to soups, or simmer it in a little broth, it stays the slightest bit chewy, even as it smoothly rolls over your tongue.
Lately, we've been adding fregola to bean soups, where it's shape and texture compliments the beans far better than elbows or rotini. (Just add the fregola about 20 minutes before your soup is ready.) But you can also cook it on it's own a side dish – try simmering it in broth until tender, then tossing it with parmesan and parsley. We've even heard of people using fregola to stuff a chicken.
Braised borlotti beans with fregola and kale
We found our fregola at DiPaolo's (where we also bought the pancetta for the pancetta cups) in New York City, but it's also available online at Amazon.com, igourmet.com and Italian marketplaces.