Friday, 11 April 2008

brodo piccante con fregola

Yesterday I wrote about the five course Italian feast I cooked for my sisters and although I blogged 3 of 5 recipes yesterday, I promised to save this one for Presto Pasta Night and the baked peaches for Weekend Herb Blogging.

For those after more pasta recipes, visit Ruth's Once Upon A Feast for this week's Presto Pasta Night recap.

My dish is predominantly a chilli-laden broth, but it contains beads of gorgeous fregola which are small toasted semolina dough pasta from the Italian island of Sardinia.

Wikipedia Fast Facts: Sardinia
· Sardinia is the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea (after Sicily).
· Sardinia is a generally mountainous island with a few coastal plains.
· The island has a Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and very mild winters.
· Sardinian is a language of Latin origin with unique elements from Phoenician, Etruscan, and Near Eastern languages. It is still widely spoken in most rural areas and used culturally for folk songs and poetry.
· In 1500 BCE it was known as Hyknusa, meaning island of the Hyksos, a group of people expelled by Ahmose I of Egypt.
· Sardinia’s modern name is after the Shardana or Sherden sea pirates, one of several groups of "Sea Peoples" who appear in fragmentary historical records represented by images of men with horned helmets, round shields, and large swords.
· In 2004, in a cave in Logudoro, a human phalanx was found that was dated to around 250,000 BCE.
· In 1323, the Kingdom of Aragon conquered Sardinia who expelled the native populations of some cities (eg Alghero). The descendants of the conquerors still speak Catalan today.
· Jean-Paul Marat, one of the leaders of the French Revolution in 1792, was the son of a Sardinian father from Cagliari and a Swiss mother.
· In 1860, Vittorio Emanuele II, King of Sardinia became also the first King of a united Italy, after conquering the rest of the peninsula.
· The original Nuraghe inhabitants of Sardinia, currently concentrated in the interior of the island, are a genetic anomaly, belonging to Y-chromosome haplogroup I, which otherwise has high frequency only in Scandinavia and the Croatia-Bosnia area.
· The phrase "sardonic grin" comes from the grimace found on victims of those poisoned by a certain herb found in Sardinia which contains strychnine-like alkaloids. It is said that family members would poison the infirm and elderly with the herb when the family was no longer able to afford to take care of them.
· Today the Sardinian economy is focused on tourism and an increasing income is coming from wines and gastronomy.
· Dried grapes, recently found in several locations, have been DNA tested and proved to be the oldest grapes in the world, dating back to 1200 BC.
· Casu Marzu is a cheese delicacy found in Sardinia, notable for being riddled with live insect larvae.
· Sardines were named after Sardinia because they were once found in abundance there.

Brodo Piccante con Fregola & Gamberi
Anna’s version of Giovanni Pilu’s recipe. Serves 6 as entrée or 4 as main course.

1 cup fregola
2 cups (500ml) shellfish stock
1 cup (250ml) tomato passata
½ cup (125ml) dry white wine
12 medium green prawns, peeled and de-veined
12 small raw scallops
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 chilli, finely chopped
Freshly milled black pepper
Olive oil
1. Heat olive oil in a pot and fry chilli and garlic until fragrant and softened.
2. Add pepper and tomato paste and fry for 2 minutes until cooked.
3. Add white and simmer, evaporating alcohol, for 2 minutes.
4. Add passata and stock and bring to the boil.
5. In another pot, boil water and cook fregola as per the packet instructions. Drain.
6. When ready to serve, add fregola, prawns and scallops to broth and cook for 1 minute until prawns have turned white. Do not overcook.
8. Divide between serving bowls and eat piping hot.
Note: you could substitute shellfish stock for fish or even chicken stock.

Giovanni Pilu, an Australian-based Sardinian chef who authored the original recipe (on which mine is only slightly varied), recommended drinking a Vermentino with this soup. Vermentino grapes are grown widely in Sardinia and they make a bold, gutsy, acidic white wine that matches well with seafood. We followed instruction and drank a Vermentino with this course, and we were not disappointed.

References & Map



  1. Heat, seafood and soups are right up my alley...pass my kudos on to Giovanni.

  2. This soup makes my tummy all warm! :)

  3. That soup sounds really good. I like the prawn and tomato combo for a soup. I will have to start saving some prawn shells to make some shellfish stock.

  4. What a glorious dish! Thanks so much for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.

    PS - loved the whole Italian feast and will definitely be recreating it over here.

  5. I'd love to dunk a crispy piece of Italian bread in that! It looks wonderfully hearty.

  6. Chili -laden broth? Sounds good for me. Thanks for sharing those facts - they are new to me :D


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