What to eat in Sardinia: Fregula cun cocciula

When travelling, one of the ways to really get to know the place that hosts us is to try the typical cuisine. In Sardinia, you are spoiled for choice, where to start? From the majestic fregula cun cocciula!
If you don’t know what we’re talking about, keep reading… and get ready to get your mouth watering!

Fregula (fregola in Italian) means a particular type of durum wheat semolina pasta, produced in Sardinia.
Fregula is a word in dialect that derives from the Latin fricare, meaning to rub and indicates the characteristic action of the fish that rub against the stones to lay their eggs. The similarity also consists of the fact that this pasta is made up of irregular-sized balls (similar to couscous), which can vary from 2 to 6 millimetres.
The fregula is produced by hand by rolling or rubbing: the semolina is placed inside a container, usually earthenware, then salted water is sprinkled and with a circular movement of the hands the ingredients are combined to form the characteristic “balls”. The next step is to toast it in an oven. This gives a particular taste to the pasta.
When was fregula created? The first historical document that the appointment dates back to the fourteenth century and is the Statute of the Mugnai di Tempio Pausania. This document regulates the preparation of pasta: at the time it could only be produced on weekdays. On Saturdays and Sundays, it was forbidden to create fregula: the water available had to be left to the farmers for the irrigation of the land.

Cocciula is the arsella: the fregula cun cocciula owes its name to a particular species of these molluscs. Originally from the Stagno di Santa Gilla (Cagliari), the cocciula niedda (black) is also known as clams. Over the years, production has shifted to make room for other species, but recently the black arsella has been reintroduced in its natural habitat, to maintain the biodiversity of the pond.
Those who are not particularly fond of the flavours of the sea can still taste the fregula: in this case, we recommend the land variant with sausage sauce.

Despite the incredible goodness, fregula cun cocciula is really simple to prepare!
For 4 people you need about 200 grams of fregula and a kilo of fresh clams.
Start by washing the clams and then they open over the fire. When they are ready, the empty shells are removed and the cooking water is filtered.
In the meantime, we proceed with the sauté: garlic (two cloves), parsley (a bunch) and a dried tomato cooked in a few drops of oil. Then add two glasses of tomato sauce to the sauté and cook over low heat for about ten minutes: at this point, the cooking liquid of the clams is added and brought back to the boil. The time has come to add clams and fregula: another fifteen or twenty minutes of cooking and the fregula cun cocciula, after a garnishing of chopped parsley, is ready to be served!
Remember: the perfect fregula is not dry but must have almost the consistency of a soup.

We are sure we have made your mouth water!
Can’t wait to try your hand at preparing this Sardinian delight?