Fregola with Wild Mushrooms, Pancetta and Olives
By John Ash
Fruity extra virgin olive oil
6 ounces pancetta cut in 1/4-inch dice
6 large garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1 pound wild mushrooms such as porcini, oyster and or chanterelle, cleaned *
1 cup pitted and slivered oil cured, Gaeta or Cerignola olives
1 cup seeded and diced ripe tomato
1 cup freshly chopped parsley
Zest and juice from one lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound pound dried fregola*
2/3 cup freshly grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large sauté pan with a cover. Add the pancetta and sauté over medium heat until lightly colored, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Add the mushrooms and sauté until lightly browned but still holding their shape. Stir in the olives, tomatoes, lemon zest and parsley and season to your taste with drops of lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook the fregola until just tender but still al dente, 10 minutes or so. Drain reserving some of the cooking water and toss with a little olive oil to prevent sticking. Toss cooked fregola and mushroom mixture together with a little of the reserved cooking water if desired and serve immediately in warm bowls, topped with cheese.