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Fregola with Wild Mushrooms

By Chef John Ash

Fregola is basically a pasta that is made in the same manner as couscous with coarse ground semolina flour. Fregola is toasted, giving it a nutty, wheaty, roasted taste.  This dish captures complex, earthy flavors.

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    Serves 6

    Total Time

    Prep Time

    Difficulty Level Medium


    5 tbs Extra virgin olive oil

    6 oz Pancetta cut into 1/4 in

    4 large Garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced

    1 Medium Lemon, zested and juiced

    2 tbs Butter

    Salt and Freshly ground pepper

    3/4 lb Dried Fregola

    1 C Seeded and diced ripe tomato

    1/2 C Pitted and slivered oil cured olives

    1/3 C Freshly chopped parsley

    1/2 C Freshly grated pecorino or Parmesan cheese

    Optional Smoked tomato broth

    2 lb Ripe large tomatoes

    4 Whole Garlic cloves

    1/2 tsp Minced chippotle in abodo or pinch of cayenne

    Chicken or vegetable stock

    1-2 tbs White truffle butter or drops of truffle oil, optional

    Balsamic Vinegar

    Salt and Freshly ground pepper


    1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan with a cover. Add the pancetta and sauté over medium heat until lightly colored and crisp, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for two minutes more. Stir in lemon zest. Remove and set aside.

    2. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and butter to pan and sauté the mushrooms until lightly colored but still holding their shape. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

    3. Bring 3 quarts of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook the fregola until just tender but still al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain, toss with remaining olive oil to prevent sticking.

    4. To serve: Toss cooked fregola, pancetta and mushroom mixtures together along with the tomato, olives, parsley, cheese and drops of lemon juice and serve immediately in warm bowls surrounded with smoked tomato broth, if using.

    5. Smoked Tomato Broth Makes about 2 cups Core the tomatoes and place in a heat proof pan at least 1 inch deep along with the garlic and smoke them for 15-20 minutes over moderate heat or until they are softened.

    6. Place the tomatoes with the garlic in a food processor. Add chipotle and process until fairly smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer pressing down on solids. Discard solids and thin to a light sauce consistency with stock. Place the mixture in a small saucepan and heat to a simmer. Whisk in truffle butter. Season to taste with drops of balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and keep warm.

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