Fregola with Salsa Verde, Goats Cheese, Broccoli and Peas

Fregola with Salsa Verde, Goats Cheese, Broccoli and Peas

Fregola is a traditional pasta from Sardinia. It's made using Durum wheat semolina that's rolled into small balls and toasted in an oven, giving a nutty flavour and texture. Fregola sits somewhere between giant couscous and Levantine moghrabieh, both are wheat based. Fregola is really versatile - use it in salads, soups and risotto, or pair it with vegetables, meat or seafood.

My recipe has a fresh summer feel to it: broccoli and peas dressed with a vibrant Italian salsa verde and the sharp tang of a hard goats cheese. Sardinian fregola works as the ideal canvas for the herb flavours and the lovely nutty texture contrasts perfectly.

Mix and match any seasonal vegetables that you love - courgettes, French beans, asparagus, broad beans, chicory, swiss chard will all work brilliantly too.

Fregola with Salsa Verde, Broccoli, Peas and Goats Cheese
Serves 4
250g fregola
400g tender stem broccoli, cut the stalks off and keep the heads separate
200g frozen peas
150g goats cheese - I've used hard goats cheese in this recipe
A few rocket leaves (optional)
1 tablespoon of butter
For the salsa verde
2 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely diced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
A handful of fresh parsley, leaves picked and finely chopped
A handful of fresh basil, leaves picked and finely chopped (save a few leaves whole for the salad to garnish at the end)
A small handful of fresh mint, leaves picked and finely chopped
4 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of capers, rinsed and chopped
10 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra for frying

1. Start by cooking the broccoli. I much prefer a cooking method that combines frying and steaming at the same time, so I use a large frying pan. Heat this with some olive oil and start by frying the stalks. Once they have a little colour, add in around 50ml of water - the pan should be hot enough for the water to sizzle and instantly create steam that helps to tenderise the broccoli. After around 3-4 minutes, add in the heads of the broccoli and continue the process. You may want to add in some more water if the broccoli need a bit more to tenderizing. When the broccoli is nearly ready, add in the butter, toss everything around for a minute then turn off the heat and leave in the pan.

2. Meanwhile, make the salsa verde by combining all the ingredients together and stirring in the olive oil at the end. It wants to have a nice balance but be slightly sharp in flavour, so taste and adjust the amount of vinegar or olive oil as you like.

3. Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil and cook the fregola for 8-10 minutes until they are tender but still have a nice bite and remain slightly chewy. Around 6 minutes in, add the peas in with the fregola and finish cooking them both together.

4. Drain the peas and fregola to a bowl and stir in the salsa verde, add in the cooked broccoli, a handful of rocket, the reserved basil leaves and crumble over the goats cheese.

This is great eaten warm, but equally good prepared ahead of time and eaten as part of a picnic or summer bbq. Enjoy! Ben 

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