Ever tried fregula? It's another variation on couscous – a toasted semolina pasta from Sardinia. I was interested in finding out if the toasting really made an impact on its flavor, and it does. It has a nutty quality that gives it a nice depth, especially in combination with roasted veggies and nuts.
I caught Efisio Farris, author of Sweet Myrtle and Bitter Honey, the Mediterranean Flavors of Sardinia, on Martha recently. He made a recipe from his book using fregula. I bookmarked his web site to consider ordering some, but then ran across it at Central Market. At around $8/pound, it's a little pricey, but we really enjoyed the flavor. So try it sometime for a special treat.
I paired it here with some roasted zucchini, cherry tomatoes, pine nuts and goat cheese. We eat zucchini all the time. It's incredibly versatile. But it can be a bit watery sometimes. I learned a little trick recently that I'll share. Slice the zucchini, then salt it liberally and let sit in a colander for 15-30 minutes. The salt will sweat the excess liquid right out. Give them a quick rinse and then you can roast them without them becoming steamy mush. Makes them much more flavorful too. You get more zucchini flavor and less juice.
This is a really loose recipe. You could make it any way you like and with as much or as little or any particular ingredient, depending on how many you'd like to serve.
zucchini, sliced at an angle
cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
pine nuts, toasted
goat cheese, crumbled
basil, cut into slivers
zest of one lemon (organic)
After you've sliced your zucchini, place it in a colander and sprinkle all over with salt. Let sit in the colander in the sink for at least 15 minutes. Lightly rinse off the salt and let drain.
Roast the zucchini in a 400 degree oven on an oiled sheet pan until it starts to color and becomes lightly browned along the edges. (I did this in the toaster oven to avoid heating up the whole kitchen.) Watch it closely, it only takes a few minutes.
While the zucchini is roasting, put water on to boil for the fregula. You can use equal parts water and fregula. Boil the fregula for 12-15 minutes. Drain. Rinse with cold water to cool and drain again.
Pour the cooled fregula in a large serving bowl. Add olive oil, lemon zest and salt and pepper. Toss together. Then add the roasted zucchini, tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, crumbles of goat cheese, slivered basil and toss together.
Want more? Farris has more recipes on his web site like this one for fregula with asparagus and gorgonzola.