FREGOLA (OR FREGULA)
Gather some flour, we're making fregola today.
Yes, I did a video to show you how to make it.
Let the flour run through your fingers, feel its rustic texture as small amounts of cold water and saffron are added. Use a coarse, stone ground, durum wheat flour. Movements should be continuous and circular, one hand adds the flour and water, the other, moves it around. Your fingertips press delicately against a large wide ceramic plate, with a smooth and slippery surface. The flour and water will merge and suddenly a resemblance of tiny golden nuggets will form. The fregola is made. The corners of your mouth now raise and that big smile on your face will be the result of a proud accomplishment.
This kind of pasta builds as you add flour and water, a little of each, a little at a time. The reason why I don't use specific measurements, although I'm sure there must be a recipe that does. The video shows you a handful of flour, and a few drops of water (or a tablespoon would be more accurate); as the flour absorbs the water, another handful of flour and some more water. Keep going until you get the amount you want. Consider one heap handful of fregola per person, again it's very approximate, my handful will never be your handful, but you got the message.
Wait...we're not done yet.
Place the fregola on an oven tray lined with baking paper, cover with a clean cloth and allow it to air-dry for a couple of hours (even less if you can't wait). Every once in a while, move it around so that it doesn't stick Now, place the tray in a preheated oven at 150ºC for 20 minutes. This step will absorb any remaining humidity and most importantly, it will toast the fregola. You'll know it's ready when you move it around with your hands and it makes the sound of dry pasta. You can store it in a sealed container up to a month.
...we're still not done. Wait.
Fregola with Clams
Serves 4 people
1 kg clams
250 gr tomato puree
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 cups saffron broth, made with hot water, saffron and a pinch of salt
Place the clams in a bowl of fresh water, add a tbsp of salt. Leave the clams in the water for a couple of hours allowing them to discharge any remaining sand.
For the sauce
In a preheated medium size pot, add 5 tablespoons of EVOO and 2 finely chopped garlic cloves. Add the clams to the pot and cover with its lid. Once the calms are open, remove them from the pan, leave the juice they released in the pot. Add the fresh parsley, the tomato puree and season to taste.
Remove most of the shells from the clams and keep just a few with their shell to decorate.
After 20 minutes, put the clams back in the same in the pot of tomato sauce. Add the broth of hot water and saffron. Bring to a boil. Add the fregola pasta, consider a heap handful for each person. The fregola cooks within 5 minutes. Add some extra saffron broth if necessary. The idea is to keep this a little liquid. If desired, add some more fresh parsley. Serve.