Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fregola Sarda with Asparagus and Lemon

My posting has gotten sporadic lately, sorry!  My recent dog adoption took up a lot of time in the beginning, and then I bought The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim  and since then I've completely failed at adulthood like a good little gaming addict!  Usually a new computer game means less time for cooking, or at least a greater emphasis on quick, easy meals.  Here's a dish I made recently that took less than 20 minutes!

My in-laws are foodies, which is nice because that means I never have a bad meal with them.  It's also pretty cool that they give us all kinds of high quality ingredients to experiment with.  Recently, they gave us some fregola sarda, which I had never heard of until I looked it up on Wikipedia.   It's an Israeli couscous-sized pasta that has been toasted.  As a result, this pasta is a variety of shades of brown and gold, and its toastiness sets it apart from other pastas.

The best recipes are ones that don't overpower the toasty flavor.  This one appealed to me because it contains lemon and I love tart and sour flavors. Since the pasta tastes so good on its own, I restrained myself and put in exactly the maximum amount of lemon zest specified in the recipe.  It was hard not to go crazy and double it, but I behaved myself. 

The only changes I made were to increase the amount of asparagus and use a little extra cheese.  I had more than 1/4 pound and I didn't want it to go to waste.  The lemon zest complimented the toasty flavor of the pasta perfectly.  If you can find fregola sarda, this quick meal is great when you're in a hurry!  This meal can be made vegetarian by substituting vegetable broth for chicken broth. 

Fregola Sarda with Asparagus and Lemon
From TasteFood
Serves 3 (or 2 large servings for a dinner)

1/4 pound thin asparagus
 4 cups chicken stock
1/2 pound fregola
1 small shallot, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, minced
1/8 tsp red chili flakes
1-2 tsp finely grated lemon zest  (I used 2)
1/4 cup grated Pecorino cheese, plus extra for garnish
Salt, pepper, and extra virgin olive oil

1) Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the asparagus until bright green and still crispy, about 1 minute. Drain and rinse well with cold water.  Slice the tips off of the asparagus and set aside for a garnish.  Slice the remaining stalks 1/4 inch thick.
2) Bring the stock to a boil in another large pot. Add fregola. Cook until al dente, about 15 minutes or according to the package instructions, then drain..
3) While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Toss in the shallot, garlic and red pepper flakes. Saute until the shallot begins to soften a little, about 1-2 minutes.  Add the fregola to the skillet and toss well. If the fregola are too sticky, add another tablespoon of olive oil. Remove from heat. Stir in asparagus, lemon zest, 1/8 cup cheese, salt and black pepper.
4) Garnish with asparagus tips and extra cheese.

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