Fregola with Clams is a classic Italian dish you might be unfamiliar with. Think pasta and clams in a white sauce with a less than typical pasta shape.
A few things about fregola… It’s a pasta from the Italian island of Sardinia. It’s made by rubbing semolina flour and water together to form small round pellets. It’s then toasted in the oven which gives it its distinct nutty flavor. Fregola is great in soups, stews and even salads. It comes in different sizes and I went middle-of-the-road. The first time I had fregola was with my former Italian chef boss (no surprise there). He actually prepared the fregola with snails and a tomato-based sauce. It was perfect. And it made me want to eat more snails, which is really saying something. He mentioned fregola with clams is another traditional combination, so I had to try it for myself.
The flavors in this fregola with clams very much echo those of linguine with clams. There’s garlic, white wine and an abundant amount of oil and butter. I also like to add red pepper flakes, lemon zest and a variety of herbs. This time around I used basil, parsley and tarragon, but mint and chives would work well too. Herbs are something you really don’t need to measure. Do the amount you like with what you like. Okay, enough talking. I just want to get my spoon into this buttery, briny, herbaceous bowl of goodness.
Think pasta and clams with a couscous like pasta shape. Fregola with clams brings all the classic flavors you love, using a delicious, toasted dried pasta.
- 2lb (2 dozen) littleneck clams, scrubbed & soaked
- 8oz (1 ½ cups) fregola
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 4 tbsp butter, sliced
- ¼ cup basil, loosely packed, torn
- ¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp tarragon, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp finely chopped lemon peel*
- Cook fregola: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season generously with salt. Add fregola and cook 6-8 minutes or until very al dente. Drain reserving a cup of cooking water. Set aside.
- Cook clams: While water comes to a boil, add oil, garlic and red pepper to a large pan. Warm over medium heat until garlic begins to sizzle. Add wine and reduce by half. Add clams, cover and cook about 4 minutes or until clams open. Remove clams and set aside.
- Create sauce and combine: Add fregola to pan with clam juices. Working over medium to medium high heat, add ½ cup of cooking water, or as needed, along with butter and toss until a thick, emulsified sauce forms. Stir in herbs and add back clams.
- Serve: Spoon fregola and clams into bowls. Top with chopped lemon peel and a drizzle of oil. Enjoy.
To prepare lemon peel, use a peeler to remove rind. Finely mince by slicing into long thin strips, and then chopping in the opposite direction. You may also zest lemon normally as an alternative.
If desired, you can substitute mint or chives for the suggested herbs, and use them in any combination or amount you prefer.
If you can’t find fregola and don’t want to purchase it online, substitute large couscous.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Main
- Method: Boil, steam, saute
- Cuisine: Italian
- Serving Size: ¼ of fregola & 6 clams
- Calories: 670
- Sugar: 0g
- Sodium: 1370mg
- Fat: 30g
- Saturated Fat: 10g
- Carbohydrates: 53g
- Fiber: 3g
- Protein: 37g
Keywords: clams, pasta