Fregola is a hard-to-find pasta that's similar to cous cous (Israeli cous cous is a fine replacement if you can't find fregola), but larger, chewier, and toasted, which gives it a nutty quality. I fell in love with the stuff after trying it at Otto in New York, and was reminded again when I came across this recipe on the New York Times website.
This recipe makes a fine side dish to, say, roasted fish, but it's also filling and balanced on its own. The interesting technique here is that the artichokes are simmered in a broth of water, garlic, chile flakes, and olive oil, and then this liquid is used to cook the fregola. The result is the artichoke's fine flavor infused throughout, while salty, creamy feta binds it together and toasted slivers of almond add crunch.
Adapted from New York Times.
- Yield:4 servings
- Active time: 20 minutes
- Total time:35 minutes
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 3 medium artichokes (about 1 1/2 pounds), tough outer leaves peeled off and discarded
- 1/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted in a dry skillet
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 1/4 cup fregola or Israeli couscous
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
Fill a medium bowl with water and add the lemon juice.
Cut off the top third of the artichokes as well as the tough bottom part of the stem. Trim away the dark skin from the base, then cut each artichoke in half lengthwise. Using a grapefruit spoon or small teaspoon, scrape out the hairy "choke" inside each half, and pull out any purple leaves. Slice the artichokes into 1/2-inch wide pieces.
In a medium (3-quart) pot, bring 6 cups of water, olive oil, salt, garlic cloves, and pepper flakes to a boil. Add the artichokes and simmer, covered, until tender, 5-7 minutes. Remove the artichokes with a slotted spoon to a bowl, leaving the water.
Bring the water back to a boil and add the fregola (or couscous) and cook until tender, 10-12 minutes. Drain well and return to the pot.
Add the artichokes, almonds, mint, dill, and most of the feta, and 2 tablespoons more olive oil. Toss well and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve with a remaining feta sprinkled on top.