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 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
serves 2

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!

85 thoughts on “Fregola with Peas and Bacon

  1. 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!

    • 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.

    • Thanks, Jennifer. It’s an adorable little book. I’ve already gifted it to a few people!

  2. 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.

  3. I will look for fregola at Whole Foods , it looks delicious. I make something similar using couscous but yours looks better.

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. I’ve had fregola in restaurants, but have never cooked with it. I should — this is such a neat recipe. Thanks!

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

  16. 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.

  17. 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!

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