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Dinner Tonight: Fregola with Mushrooms, Rosemary, and Sage

Like cous cous—a food originating in Northern Africa—fregola is not a whole grain but a semolina flour pasta rolled by hand (or machine). Hailing from Sardinia, fregola's coarse spheres are much larger than cous cous, giving them more heft and texture. Once dried, fregola is toasted, which imparts an amazing nutty flavor and also helps it keep an appealing sturdiness even after it's cooked.

Fregola can be added to soups, cooked gently in stock like risotto, or simply boiled and tossed with olive oil or butter and some herbs. A traditional pairing is clams and tomatoes, but I had a couple of portobello mushrooms that needed to be cooked. While the fregola boiled, I chopped the mushrooms into large pieces and sautéed them with garlic and olive oil. Then, just after they had released their water and begun to caramelize, I tossed in a handful of chopped rosemary and sage. The nutty fregola complemented the tender, earthy mushrooms beautifully. The meatiness of portobellos was especially wonderful, but any mushroom would work. Look for fregola in Italian markets or online, or substitute Israeli cous cous, which is larger than traditional varieties.

About the author: Blake Royer lives in Brooklyn and spends most of his free time cooking and writing about it here at Serious Eats and on The Paupered Chef. From 9 to 5 weekdays, he works as an assistant book editor in Manhattan.

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