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Fregula or Fregola sarda, a 1000 year history

Fregula or Fregola sarda, a 1000 year history

Fregula or fregola sarda, one of the treasures of traditional Sardinian cuisine. It is an ingredient in many delicious typical Sardinian recipes. Its history is very old, it is said that fregola was already being prepared in Sardinia over 1000 years ago!

What is fregola?



Fregola is a typical Sardinian pasta made from durum wheat semolina, also known as fregula, fregua, succu, cascà or pistitzone, depending on the area of the island. To be precise, the term 'fregola' is a translation that makes many people turn up their noses; purists prefer to use the Sardinian names. Whether one prefers one form or the other, the origin of the word seems to derive from the Latin ferculum, 'crumb'.

The reason is simple: the peculiarity of the Fregola is precisely its shape. "Irregular 'crumbs' of pasta, of different sizes, which are made by kneading semolina and water for a long time. This pasta is then toasted in the oven, taking on a darker colour and an inimitable flavour. 

Because of its size, Fregula is often associated with cous cous, the typical North African dish. The main difference between the two is the cooking method used. Cous cous is steamed, whereas Sardinian Fregula is usually cooked by boiling or as if it were a risotto.  

The colour of the Fregola (as well as the taste) also varies if, as happens especially in the Campidano area, saffron is added to the dough.

History of fregola

Fregola has ancient origins. The first documents mentioning this product date back to over 1000 years ago. According to some scholars, this type of pasta spread to our island thanks to trade with the Phoenicians and Punics; others maintain that it was created exclusively by the Sardinians. 

A curiosity? Fregola is also mentioned in a 14th-century document, the Statuto dei Mugnai di Tempio Pausania (Statute of the Millers of Tempio Pausania), which stipulated that it could only be prepared from Monday to Friday in order to conserve water for agricultural work at the weekend.

Knowing the true history of the typical Sardinian pasta is perhaps impossible. The certainty we have is that fregula is one of the most important symbols of the island's tradition. Its rough texture and consistency makes it a perfect product for various types of sauces and preparations, which vary from area to area of the island.

How to cook fregola

The most famous Sardinian recipe with this type of pasta is the Fregola with clams, (Fregula cun còcciula so called in the dialect of the Cagliari province), an excellent first course especially in South Sardinia. Throughout Sardinia, it is customary to season Fregola with fish-based sauces, tomato or white. 

But that's not all: the Sardinian Fregola lends itself to many different preparations, from the richest such as Fregola with seafood to others of poorer origin such as Fregula incasada, a first course with simple ingredients: parsley, tomato, sometimes saffron, and lots of grated pecorino cheese.

In addition to traditional recipes, an excellent product like this pasta is also perfect for more complex dishes and more original combinations. In fact, it is often used to cook Sardinian Fregola by adding boiling water or broth as if it were a risotto, or to create soups; you can choose precious ingredients such as botargo (dried mullet roe) or more classic ones such as seasonal vegetables.

The only limit to the use of this raw material is your imagination; for the rest, let yourself be guided by your taste to create the dishes you prefer. Remember, however, to always use the most suitable size of Fregola for the sauce: large Fregola for risotto or drier dishes, finer Fregola for soups and brothy sauces.

We introduce you to our favourite recipe: Sardinian Fregola with seafood and botargo.

What is your gourmet idea for preparing this typical delicacy?