Saturday, June 03, 2006

Fregula with Clams (or Fregula cun Cocciula)

This Sardinian specialty, the Fregula, is thought to be an ancestor of modern pasta. It consists of small, chewy balls made from coarsely ground semolina. It can be used as a bed for sauces, and it's also super in soups... but this recipe, where they are cooked with tomatoes and arselle (clams), is my favorite!!





INGREDIENTS:

* 150 g fine fregula ( 2 mm in diameter)
* 600 g live arselle (these are small clams)
* 1 cup white wine
* 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil
* 4 cloves garlic, crushed
* 350 g tomato sauce
* Italian parsley
* boiling water (some cooks use a dilute fish broth)


PREPARATION:


  • The first thing to do is cleaning the clams: Lightly salt the water in the bucket and let them sit in it for several hours, during which they will expel whatever sand they have in their shells.
  • Wash them under running water and set them in a large skillet; place the drained clams in a large pot or skillet whith 2 tablespoons of oil, 2 cloves of garlic, the parsley, the wine; then cover, and turn the heat to high. After 3 minutes check to see if any clams have opened and begin removing each one that opens, about 6 to 7 minutes in all Strain the juices in the pan and pour them over the clams. If one of the clams does not open, do not eat it. It was already dead and could make you quite sick.
  • Strain the clam broth remaining in the pot through a fine mesh strainer and set aside.
  • In a medium-size pot or earthenware casserole, heat the olive oil with the garlic over a medium-high heat until the garlic begins to turn light golden, stirring so the garlic doesn't burn. Then remove and discard the garlic. Add the chopped tomatoes and stir well for about ten minutes. Pour in the hot water, salt, cayenne and reserved clam juice. Bring to a gentle boil, then add the fregula. Cook until al dente, about 16 to 18 minutes, then taste, and add a little salt if necessary. Stir in the clams and parsley and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, and serve with an extra bowl to collect the empty shells.

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