Fregola with Peas and Bacon
My blogger friend Stefan, of the blog Stefan Gourmet, has been help and inspiration to me for years. And I even got the chance to meet him in person, so I feel a special connection with him.
He’s an expert cook, loves to experiment, and he was my original resource for cooking sous vide. His greatest passion is Italian cuisine. He vacations often in Italy, where he gets inspiration from street food to Michelin-starred restaurant meals. His stories of driving back to Holland with carloads of Italian wines are legendary.
When Stefan wrote a post about fregola, also spelled fregula, I had never heard of it, and knew I had to try it.
Fregola is a spherical pasta from Sardinia, that looks like couscous, but what makes it different from both is that it’s toasted. So what you get when it’s cooked is a sturdy, flavorsome pasta. Some say it’s toothsome.
In any case, I ordered a little cookbook a while back, called The Sunday Night Book, by Rosie Sykes, published in 2017.
A quote on Amazon.com: Make Sunday night the best evening of the week, by perfecting the last, lazy meal of the weekend. Most of us want to forget that back-to-school feeling by kicking off our shoes and hunkering down with a soul-soaring supper – one that can be eaten with friends at the table, with book in hand by the fire, or in front of the TV.
It’s an adorable little book, and I love the concept behind it, even though I need no help conjuring up meals any day of the week.
I especially love these words by the author: As the weekend winds down into non-existence, many of us begin to contemplate the impending horrors that Monday morning will bring. But this is a choice, a social construct dictated by empty streets, empty pubs, and closed curtains. You could resign yourself to yet another humdrum Sunday evening supper, but you could just as easily embrace the moment as an opportunity to create something that’s not only comforting, but also uplifting.
In this book I discovered a fregola recipe, and was eager to make it.
Fregola with Bacon and Peas
1 cup fregola
3/4 cup frozen peas
1 1/2 tablespoons light olive oil
2 ounces smoked streaky bacon
1 banana shallot, finely sliced
100 ml white wine
400 ml chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
3 sprigs mint leaves, finely chopped
Salt and black pepper
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the fregola for half its cooking time, about 8 minutes, adding the peas for the last 2 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water, then set aside.
Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. If your bacon has the rind still on, remove and reserve. Using scissors, snip the bacon into 1/2″ pieces directly into the hot oil – adding any reserved rind for extra flavour – then let it sizzle and give off its fat. Once the bacon is cooked and a bit crispy, lift out with a slotted spoon and set aside; discard the rinds or give them to the birds.
Add the shallot to the residual fat in the pan and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes, or until soft, stirring so it doesn’t catch too much colour.
(As you can see, I cooked the bacon gently, then added the sliced shallots to it.)
Stir in the fregola and peas, then pour in the white wine. Once the wine has evaporated, add the stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until the fregola is just cooked, about another 6 minutes.
(Oops I mixed the wine and broth together.)
Return the bacon to the pan, then add the butter and all but a tablespoon of both the parmesan and the mint.
Stir over a low heat for a couple of minutes, then cover and remove from the heat. Let it sit for another minute before spooning into bowls.
Scatter over the remaining parmesan and mint, then inhale – this is super-delicious!
I think this is my new favorite kind of pasta!
I simply love Fregola ….paired with the sweetness of peas is a winning combination 😋
It was so fun to try! Love it!
I wish I could meet Stefan some day as well! I love this recipe Mimi, and I am totally ignorant about Sardinia typical food since I am from the Northern East Italy… thanks for sharing and being an inspiration for other blogger too!
Thank you so much! My father’s family is from Sicily, so that’s my next Italian destination.
Let me know when you’ll go!
I have never heard of Fregola. Where do you find it? I’ve never seen it in a grocery.
I had to get it online at Amazon. It may be harder to find since it’s not just Italian but Sardinian, but I imagine any Italian grocery store would have it. I just live in a town with no ethnic shops.
I do like the sound of this. I used to buy fregola at Whole Foods
Interesting! I’ll have to check there when I can go to one.
Do you think omitting the mint would throw off the whole dish? I’m not a big mint fan.
No, it wouldn’t at all. I’m not a huge mint person either, but it did work here.
Oooh! I love that the pasta is cooked in wine and stock. I may to grab this book, too! :D Happy Tuesday, Mimi!
Thanks, Jennifer. It’s an adorable little book. I’ve already gifted it to a few people!
Oh, I’ve seen fregola in the specialty pasta isle in my favourite supermarket but thought “Do I need this?”. I thought I didn’t but after reading your post, I thought I might, actually :-D . I’ll see if they still have it when I next go there.
Just once. Yes, you need this once!
I love that you added mint…mint and bacon – what an interesting and enticing flavor combination!
I love this recipe!
I will look for fregola at Whole Foods , it looks delicious. I make something similar using couscous but yours looks better.
I will look for fregola at Whole Foods, I love the idea that it is toasted.
Yes! That’s what makes it so different!
Thanks for enlightening me to what Fregola is Mimi. When you said that Fregola is a spherical pasta from Sardinia, and I looked at the picture it looks much like couscous, or giant couscous which I have cooked with in some of my recipes before. This dish definitely looks like a delicious supper. I don’t know if I could wait until Sunday for it. I’d like this ANY day of the week! :-)
I’d just commented that it is similar to Israeli couscous, but the toasting gives the fregola a different texture!
It looks and sounds delicious!
It’s sort of like Israeli couscous, but firmer!
Lovely job Mimi. You are not the only one who learns a lot from Stefan.
I know! Very cool that you two get together!
Bacon really gives it a delicious kick, love it!!
Bacon is good! I’m a fregola fan!
Coincidentally I bought fregola myself at the Italian market this week. I thank you for kicking off my research into this hard to find pasta shape. GREG
I know you’ll love this recipe, Greg.
That’s a good idea to cook it in two stages. I’ve used fregula before but find it’s hard to get it cooked in the middle without making it too mushy on the outside.
Good to know! Thanks.
I have never heard of fregola. It sounds like it would be delicious. Great recipe.
I hadn’t either! That’s why I love reading food blogs so much!
oooh yum! anything with bacon and butter sounds good to me (:
Hahahahaha! It’s really tasty!
This looks delicious! What a great recipe.
Something I was happy to eat as a whole meal!
We were in Sardinia last year and this fregola recipe is a nice reminder of that stunning holiday :)
Oh, I bet! You’re welcome!
I love Fregola having been introduced to it via a Nigella Lawson episode a few years ago. Thank you for the reminder of this lovely little pasta… I am off to dig up some of my recipes.
Try this recipe! It’s simple and very good!
What a wonderful quote about Sunday evenings! I admit that Sundays are rather boring around here, though. We’ve even started calling them pre-Monday. But I like the idea of switching the routine up a bit! And I must admit that I’ve never made fregola before, but I love all forms of pasta, so I definitely need to find a bag. This recipe sounds delicious!!
Thank you. I love the quote also. It’s about Sunday being Sunday and not pre-Monday! My husband was always grumpy on Sunday because it was pre-Monday. He’s retired now, so every day is…. well, just pick one! Fregola is fun to try at least once.
I’ve had fregola in restaurants, but have never cooked with it. I should — this is such a neat recipe. Thanks!
You should try it once, at least, because it is unique.
What a beautiful, light summer dish. I’m definitely going to keep my eyes open for fregola, it sounds wonderful. I have seen Stefan Gourmet for years, perhaps it’s time I popped by to check put his blog.
Oh you should. He’s a real scientist when it comes to cooking, which is great because I’m too old and lazy to do all of the experimentation he does – especially when it comes to sous vide! And he’s a perfectionist when it comes to his cooking.
Thanks for the shout out and nice words! I like this recipe and will prepare it with pancetta.
That would be wonderful! Thanks for spreading the word about fregola, at least to me!
Fregola is new to me but I love trying new ingredients, especially when the entire recipe sounds so good!
It’s just something different and fun, and worth trying!
Fregola is a lovely pasta, isn’t it? And so versatile. I came to know them fairly late in the game, too, well after I had left Italy. A reader of my blog, who sadly has since passed away, brought me a bag of fregola as a gift one time we met in person. I was touched, and fregola always brings back memories of that lunch we shared together, talking about our mutual love of Italy and Italian food.
That’s a lovely memory. And sad. I also met a food blogger in Texas who passed away, and he was someone who had such an impact on many food bloggers.
This looks so delicious! And perfect for Sunday night! Our Sunday night supper is easy food that can be eaten on the couch in front of the television. I love this time. Going down to the deli tomorrow to pick up a packet of fregola to make this dish. Thanks for sharing!
That kind of meal is exactly the intention of this cookbook author. Relaxed, comfortable, but still a meal. I love her philosophy.
I’ve never heard of Fregola. Looks amazing in this dish!
See if you can find it – I found it on Amazon!
I can see why this is a new favorite! It looks like comfort food with a fresh face.
Thanks for introducing us to this type of pasta we have yet to try. I bet toasting it makes it so delicious along with all of your aromatics. Wishing you a super Mother’s Day weekend.
Thank you! Yes, it’s got a distinct texture because it’s toasted. Worth trying!
I absolutely love that you cooked the bacon gently. It looks so sweet and succulent! I’ve added this to my recipes for the week… Will post back and let you know how it went!
Thank you. Oh, you’ll love it. What’s not to love?!!
I recently learned of fregola also and want to try it soon. This sounds like a delicious recipe!
It’s very good, and fun!
Mimi, I’m so excited! I’ve never heard of fregola, and I’m eager to try it. There’s nothing in this recipe I don’t like, so I’m definitely going to look for fregola and make it soon.
Fabulous! You’ll love it!
This is great, I’ve never heard of this pasta. I’ll have to keep my eye out for it.
Well I hadn’t either! I had to find it on Amazon!
Oh we have Prime! A dangerous thing.
For those who have not tried this yet, You’re all missing out. I tried it my self and it was just mouthwatering.
Do you mean this specific recipe or fregola in general?!!
This is new to me, and I love trying new things – so I’m intrigued.
My philosophy of eating as well! It was fun trying.
We tried Stefan’s Fregula and clams recipe and it was great. You’ve now given us another recipe to use this fine little round Fregula pasta shape in. Thanks Mimi.
I would have made that also if I could get fresh clams! It’s a fun pasta!
It sounds and especially looks like a fantastic dish! I’ve heard about fregola, but never tasted it. I must check if I can find it in an Italian grocery shop here because after seeing your photographs I’d love to test it!
it’s certainly worth trying, just cause it is unique!
I like the toasty, chewy texture and taste of fregola and this dish sounds great. I used to buy it when we lived in New Hampshire but have not seen it in our part of Florida.
Are there Italians in Florida? At least so much can be ordered online, which is what I have to do.
There are…including my husband. :D Unfortunately are town is small and doesn’t have any specialty markets. I usually buy items like fregola when we head to Ft. Lauderdale or Miami to see our children.
Have never had fregola, in fact, I don’t remember seeing it, but I’m going to carefully look for it next time I go to the grocer. Peas, mint and bacon – how can one go wrong. :)
I know, it was a really nice recipe. And I have half the package left.. I’ll probably make the same recipe!