Fregola sarda with seafood

Nothing is more exiting than breathing in the air of new land.

Even if Italy seems familiar to the point, you almost feel at home every time stepping out of the plane, Sardinia in the past has escaped our travel routes, though unrightfully so.

After a quick stop in Provence we landed in Cagliari, with full intentions of eating (drinking) our way through the island, a goal nearly achieved a good week later.

I could brag for a while how beautiful and diverse Sardinia is from white sandy beaches to rocky out of this world terrain and how with a bit of patience and willingness to travel, wild and secluded places await, but isn’t food of most interest?

For fellow travellers eager to dip fingers into local specialities I can say, there’s plenty for fish and meat lovers alike, though you’d have go deeper into the island to discover truly succulent dishes.

However, if octopus is amongst your favourites (as it happens to be with me), it can be found nearly everywhere along the coastline mostly served as antipasti with a dash of lemon juice, though once in a while it’s possible stumble on a ridiculously delicious red wine version.

I think it’s safe to call it a fish version of beouf bourgouinon, a stew rich and full of flavours, causing immediate regrets there aren’t octopus often enough for sale close to home.

Apart from fish and meat you’ll always have a side of pane carasau, typical Sardinian bread, very thin, crisp and equally addictive to bite upon and of course there are countless versions of pastas, though in my humble opinion to skip ones with bottarga (smoked mullet caviar) would be a crime.

Having travelled throughout the island I have to say that it’s a bit of a challenge tracking down places with authentic cuisine, rather been simplified for the mass of tourists and if you are there towards end of August, they literally overrun the island. Not saying that great food is hard to come by, but it does take more searching and effort.

Now, I have not taken any snaps of food while on holiday, as I was too eager to dive in and savour the plate, but I did bring back home a pack of fregola, an Israeli couscous looking like typical Sardinian pasta to recreate one of the best meals tasted during the trip.

Rolled from semolina dough and baked in the oven fregola is best in soups, stews and with rich sauces, especially when there’s seafood involved.

My humble version may not be a completely authentic Sardinian fregola dish, but it’s perfect for using up one the last season’s fresh tomatoes in a summery yet, hearty seafood pasta dish in less than 30 minutes. I think it’s one of those that could be labeled good enough for dinner party and easy enough for week night, or whenever a memory inducing dish is in order. Enjoy and have a lovely week!

4.7 from 6 reviews
Fregola sarda with seafood
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 2
  • ⅔ cup fregola
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 4 medium tomatoes, diced
  • pinch of sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable of fish stock
  • 9 oz/ 250 grams mussels, cleaned
  • 9 oz/250 grams prawns, shells on
  1. Cook fregola in salted boiling water for 7 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. While fregola is cooking start on the sauce, heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley and continue to cook for another few minutes.
  4. Add chilli flakes, tomato pastes and stir to coat.
  5. Finally tip in diced tomatoes and sugar. Season with salt and pepper and let it cook for about 10 minutes on medium heat.
  6. Next, add the pre-cooked fregola top with stock and scatted shrimps and mussels on top.
  7. Cover and let it cook for 3-4 minutes, till the mussels have opened.
  8. Then cook for a few more minutes to reduce the sauce. Taste to check if pasta is cooked and adjust the seasoning; take off the heat.
  9. Sprinkle with extra parsley and serve.

40 thoughts on “Fregola sarda with seafood

  1. Oh, my. I want to be YOU!!! What gorgeous travel and food photos…pure heaven. Now I have to try fregola…it sounds scrumptious!

  2. Thank you for taking us along on this wonderful escape. Love those semolina couscous pearls, just gorgeous. Your photography is stunning and love that photo with the water splashing up around the storks – birds. Have a super week. BAM

  3. Living in Greece, I can safely say that Italy and Greece share a big variety of common ingredients having as a result a similarity in many dishes such as octopus, squid and seafood in general. I love octopus too and I make it either plane or with red wine. You made one fine dish which reminds me of summer that just left us here!

  4. I have never tried fregola and I can’t wait to get my hand on them.
    The dish is so comforting and plateful of yumminess. My hubby a seafood lover would be a happy camper if this was in front of him.
    Beautiful pictures.

  5. The pictures are amazing so is the recipe.
    I love Sardinia , it’s landscapes, culture and cuisine.
    When looking at these gorgeous pictures, I feel as I would be there at this very moment!

  6. What gorgeous pictures of a land far, far away from me! Thanks so much for sharing your trip. The fregola sarda looks delicious. Love all that beautiful seafood!

  7. This is a recipe I would expect to see in a cookbook, just wonderful, so flavorful. Your pictures look so professional as well that I am inspired to run to the harbor now to buy some seafood!

  8. A seafood incarnation of beef bourguignon sounds heavenly! Your photos of Sardinia have reignited my slumbering travel bug. Thank you. :)

  9. I imagine you have spent holidays in a climate and food paradise! This dish looks excellent and so original. I think I have seen fregola here (many Italians and people with Italian origin living in my city). I must buy it one day.

  10. Well this looks amazing!! If I can’t get my hands on the fregola could I substitute orzo or acini de pepe? Or would it just not be the same?

    • Thank you so much, Jasmine, this is a fairly universal sauce so you could substitute with both of these and I think any regular pasta. Just in case using regular pasta you’d have to add it the last moment without simmering in the sauce. Cheers :)

  11. More gorgoues photos! And your fregola looks terrific. I adore fregola and make it often. I am pleased to see that you have presented it with its traditional accompaniment, seafood. One does not see that too often in the U.S. most cooks here serve it with vegetables. Brava! Complimenti!

  12. I have a friend who splits her time between Victoria Canada and Bosa. I had the privilege of visiting Sardegna a couple of years ago – and fell madly in love with the Island, the people and the food. But let’s not tell too many people ok?

    • Bosa has such a beautiful beach, we passed just close to it. At what time of the year did you visit Sardegna?
      We were end of August and it was swamped with tourists. It really took a lot of driving to find more secluded places.

      • I was there in May/early June. I found that the tourists were mainly Italian, a few Europeans, and thankfully very few North Americans (as I am). A different experience from the rest of Italy for sure. I loved it

  13. I’m from Sardinia! Proud to find a fregola recipe in a blog :-) Nice pictures too!

    • Ah, thank you for visiting! Which part of Sardegna are you from? We drove through most of it during the holidays and loved every bit of it :)

  14. I found your blog by Googling fregola. I pick some up in Seattle last year and have been seeking delicious recipes. This one appealed to me.

  15. Hi Gintare
    wonderful way to present a recipe. I have been to Sardinia twice over the last 5 years, and going for summer vacation again this year. I just love the Sarda cooking – and the dishes they make with fregola are on the top of my list of favorites.
    Now to really make a good fregola dish, you need to pay attention to the stock, and I wonder if you could elaborate just a little on the ‘vegetable of fish stock’ that you mention in the recipe – I am Danish, and my English could be better. How do you make it taste like they do it in Sardinia?

  16. Sardinia is one of my favorite places in the world, so when I saw this Fregola recipe yesterday, I was anxious to try it with the chilled bottle of Sardinian Vermentino I had waiting to be enjoyed!!! The dish on its own was a little flat, but to be totally fair, the tomatoes I used could have been much riper, and the seafood stock I used was unsalted…so, anyone reading this should take note here. (Maybe the recipe should call for the amount of salt “___ tsp, or to taste…” for example?) Also, note that the Vermentino made the dish SING!!!!! Please try this dish with a Sardinian Vermentino, and nothing else!!

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