Thursday, November 17, 2011

Funnin' Around with Fregola - Fregola Sarda Pudding

This is the first time I have done this in the 3 years I have been blogging about food, so bear with me. I received a free sampler package from Marx Foods...  I think I am suppose to put a blurb here about how I am not being paid write a review of any products, nor am I, in any way, affiliated with Marx foods. Blah blah blah blah....  Be that as it may, they have some really cool stuff.  :)

Some of that cool stuff showed up on my doorstep and wanted to play in the kitchen....  Some beautifully plump Vanilla beans, burnished red Saffron, Star Anise and this funny looking pasta that, for my love of ALL things Italian, I had never heard of before.... Fregola Sarda.

It's a form of couscous from Sardinia.  It's on the larger side, like Israeli couscous, but with one important difference... It's been toasted to bring out a nutty flavor in the durum semolina.  Yeah baby!  That's what I'm talking 'bout. Just look at how wonderfully mottled it is, like little toasted pearls of deliciousness.

I will admit that when I think of Couscous, I always think of Moroccan or Lebanese dishes.  Which was why it was fortuitous that the Fregola was accompanied by Star Anise and Saffron... Two great tastes that taste great together.  Or at least they do in Moroccan Semolina soup.  Which is where I got my idea for the challenge.  Oh, did I forget to mention that?  I was asked to utilize the Fregola Sarda and one of the other ingredients from the free sampler to make a dish.  Well, being somewhat of an overachiever, I decided to marrying the flavors of that Moroccan soup with the methodology of an Italian risotto...  Lightly sweetened and simmered into a beautiful Rice, er, I mean couscous "pudding".

Fregola Sarda Pudding

20 oz (590 ml) (2 1/2 cups) Whole Milk
1 Star Anise
10 Saffron Threads (DON'T overdo it... or it will be bitter)
2 oz (56 g) (~1/4 cup) Caster Sugar
5.2 oz (150 g) (~1 cup) Fregola Sarda

Bring the first 4 ingredients together in a small sauce pan.

Heat just until the milk begins to simmer, then remove from the heat.. cover and allow to steep for 30 minutes.

Remove the Star Anise and the Saffron threads (I don't like to eat the threads)

Place the Milk back over medium heat and when it begins to simmer again, add the Fregola and stir.

Reduce the flame to low and simmer; stirring (like risotto) until the Fregola is just passed the al dente stage. (20-25 minutes)

Remove from the heat and cover, letting the pudding set for 10 minutes.

Spoon into champagne coups or other serving dishes.

Personally, I like my rice pud....  I mean couscous pudding at room temperature...

The scent was pure heaven.  The flavor?  Well, what can I say...?  It was exotic to say the least; hints of anise wrapped around the grassy saffron and hazel-nutty pearls.  Way beyond the realm of mere Tapioca pudding. (Which, historically, has been one of my UN-favorite foods)  The texture of the couscous is very different from that of tapioca pearls.  It was much more like a golden rice pudding.  Honestly, I loved it... A most enjoyable combination of Italy & Morocco...  :)

And thanks to Marx Foods for the free samples and opening my mind to the possibilities of this wonderful pasta. 



Patti T. said...

What a totally fascinating recipe. I love that they toasted the Fregola, which I also had never heard of. The end recipe that you came up with looked fabulous. Saffron is one of those spices that you really have to be careful with.

nico. said...

Oh man, it looks like we had the same idea for the contest ... great minds think alike? Well good luck!

Libby said...

You may like your pud at room temp, but that lovely creaminess looks like the perfect warm winter dessert to me!

Cathy W said...

Shane--as always, a stellar recipe! I just knew you would find a way to use all of the ingredients. Wasn't this fun?

Amy said...

Great minds think alike. I created a pudding recipe with my fregola as well! Great recipe! :)

Amy @ uTryIt

Angela G. said...

That looks like a dish of heaven right there! Glad to check out your blog for the first time :)

- Angela from Adesina's Kitchen

Anonymous said...

I like your description of a golden rice pudding! It looks much like tapioca pudding but knowing and tasting fregola, this looks very tasty (I too am not fond of tapioca). Great job!

~Chris said...

Love Marx Foods! This recipe sounds delicious - looks like Tapioca on steroids! :)

Shawnee said...

That pudding looks so creamy! Like you, I'm not a fan of tapioca pudding, but fregola pudding I think I would love!