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Fregula with mushrooms and shallots

Fregula (or fregola) with cremini mushrooms, caramelized shallots and Parmesan cheese is a hearty and delicious vegetarian recipe for dinner.

One of the best things to come out of Sardinia as far as I’m concerned is fregula (or fregola).  It is a toasted semolina pasta and it is similar in size to Israeli Couscous.  They are chewy, toasty little pearls and this is one of my favorite recipes for days when I need a little extra something.

I happen to live in a predominantly Italian neighborhood, so finding this isn’t difficult but if you aren’t that lucky you can find it online (or have a friend mail it to you!).  Another option if your grocery store doesn’t carry it, is to ask them to start!  Most stores are happy to oblige if they know someone will buy it.

The first time I had fregola was in culinary school and I was instantly hooked.  The pasta is unlike anything else. It has a dense, chewy texture that you just don’t get with regular pasta.  It holds up very well with hearty ingredients making it perfect for an autumn meal.

Fregula with Creminis and Caramelized Shallots

  • 2 cups fregula
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 large shallots
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 large or 2 small packages cremini mushrooms
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 bunch parsley
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Parmesan cheese rind (optional, yet necessary)

1.  In a medium stock pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Finely slice shallots and add to pot.  Stir to coat and let them cook, undisturbed for 5 – 10 minutes until they begin to caramelize.

2.  Stir the shallots and let them continue to brown.  Once they have fully caramelized, add the wine.  Scrape the bottom of the pot to get all the yummy brown bits that have stuck to the bottom.

3.  Next, slice the mushrooms and add them to the shallots.  Let the mushrooms cook down and release their liquid.  Add salt and pepper, lower heat to medium.

4.  Mushrooms will need to cook down about 15 minutes, you’ll see that they have released quite a bit of liquid and they are browned.  Smash the clove of garlic and add it to the pot.

5.  At this point, add the fregula, stir it to combine, and add the stock.  This is where you add the cheese rind if you have one.  I know not everyone has one of these in the refrigerator, but if you do,  this is the perfect use for it.  It will lend a depth of flavor that nothing else can provide. 

6.  Bring the fregula up to a boil and let it cook until al dente,  about 12 minutes.

7.  Turn off the heat. Chop the parsley and add it to the fregula.  Stir to combine.

8.  Serve with extra grated parmesan on top.

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