It’s already a week since I came back from Sardinia where I spent a short late summer holiday.
It was wonderful to soak in that clear sea, enjoy the vast beaches covered with fluffy white sand, contemplate the pristine landscape, smell in the air the scent of the myrtle and of the other wild plants.
I could enjoy all that undisturbed, without meeting the crowd that in August usually swarm about in Italian holiday resorts.
A week spent like this was enough to get my strength back and find new energies…
I’ve already told you I’ve been living in Sardinia for some years when I was a child; this isle adopted me and entered my heart, even now, when I’m in this places, I feel at home.
During my stay in Sardinia, some courses and some traditional products became part of our family tradition, one of these is exactly fregola pasta.
Fregola (or fregula) is a type of pasta made with durum wheat, already known as Sardinian couscous.
Durum wheat semolina is kneaded in big earthenware bowls, adding water little by little and rotating the hands to obtain irregular little balls with different thicknesses depending on what it will be used for.
The little one is more appropriate for soups, the medium or bigger ones are used to make courses with less broth, but anyway rather soft and soggy courses.
At the end fregola pasta is dried or toasted (toasting makes it tastier).
My family usually makes it in the most traditional way, that is to say with clams and tomato, but every shellfish or broth made with fish can be used for different and tasty variations.
In this recipe, I decided to put my extra touch and I choose to combine fregola pasta with courgette flowers, mussels and clams.
What’s really new is that my husband helped me cooking this course!
He didn’t really cook (he’s not even able to make a fried egg), but I could let him to do some practical works as cleaning mussels that is a little boring to me.
It was nice for once to have a sous-chef, but, I don’t know why, I think my partner will volunteer no more to help me in the kitchen!
Some tricks before directions
Clams and mussels have to be alive when you buy them: mussels must be well closed and clams have to open a little to bring out their siphon (a sort of horn) when you put them in the water to purge sand out.
To purge clams use only sea coarse salt: put in a big bowl 15 gr of salt for every liter of cold water, melt it with a spoon and soak your shellfishes after you rinsed them with flowing water.
Your clams have to purge for two hours at least, after this time, if you want to continue this process, you have to change their water.
To clean mussels put them under flowing water, take each mussel, tear off the byssus (the fibrous filaments attached to the shell flat side) and rub the shell with a knife, a scrub brush or a steel wool.
Throw away the opened ones and the cracked ones.
As an alternative to fresh tomatoes, you can use peeled preserved tomatoes.
I always prefer the fresh ones, in this case if you want you can easily peel them with a little trick: soak the tomato for just a moment in boiling water and then put it in cold water, dry and peel it.
Maybe it could be difficult to find ‘fregola’ beyond Italy, so you can replace it with some other little size pasta.
Fregola pasta with courgette flowers, mussels and clams recipe
- 320 gr fregola big size
- 1 kg clams
- 1 kg mussels
- 60 ml dry white wine
- 40 gr onion
- 12 courgette flowers
- 230 gr fresh ripe tomatoes
- Virgin olive oil as required
- Fresh parsley as required
- Pepper as required
- 2 garlic cloves
- 20 ml dry white wine
- Virgin olive oil as required
Put virgin olive oil as required in a pan, add the peeled garlic cloves and let them brown for a few seconds, then add your mussels cleaned before, cover with a lid and raise the heat.
When your mussels start opening, stir them with a spoon and add the white wine, cover again and let on the stove until they are all opened.
Pick up your mussels with a pierced ladle, put them in a bowl and cover it with a dish (remove the garlic cloves), filter their water and set aside.
Rinse under flowing water your clams purged before, put them in a pan at high heat and cover with a lid.
When they start opening, stir them with a spoon and cover again.
When your clams are all opened, put them in a bowl, filter their water and add it to the mussels’ one.
Allow to cool a little then shell half of your mussels and half of your clams.
Clean your courgette flowers gently with this method: remove pistils and stems, rinse quickly the flowers under flowing water, drain and dry them softly with a towel.
Cut courgette flowers in half lengthwise and set aside.
Put on the stove a small pot with unsalted water and let it boil lightly.
In a pan sweat the chopped onion over low heat with some virgin olive oil.
When the onion is soft, add your fregola pasta, stir and wait for a moment.
Raise the heat and add the white wine, let it to evaporate (as you do with ‘risotto’), then lower the heat immediately.
Add to your pasta the chopped tomatoes, keep the fregola always wet pouring the shellfishes’ water alternate with the boiling unsalted water, measuring it to obtain a not too much salty taste at the end of cooking.
Mix every now and then.
When it’s almost cooked add first your courgette flowers, let them sweat lightly, then add your mussels and clams.
Complete the fregola pasta with courgette flowers, mussels and clams with chopped parsley and some freshly ground pepper.
Now you can serve, buon appetito!