FREGOLA WITH RAZOR CLAMS AND ARTICHOKES
FREGOLA IS A SEMOLA PASTA FROM SARDINIA, often compared to large Israeli couscous. After the simple dough is rolled into small balls, it is left to dry in the sun and then toasted in a large pan, which gives it a deep, nutty taste and a nubbly, rough texture that makes it perfect for soaking up the flavours of sauce and broth.
The island’s geography dictates that many of the fregola dishes to come out of Sardinia feature seafood and it is typically cooked in a light broth along with the fregola, which locks in all the flavours. Razor clams are a good choice of shellfish because they have a stronger flavour than other varieties but are still sweet and delicate. When you buy razor clams, you will need to check they are still alive and fresh before you cook them. Tap each one gently – the shell should close; if they don’t, discard them.
2 artichokes, preferably mammole or violet (don’t use globe)
juice of 1 lemon
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
ó garlic clove, finely sliced
1 long red chilli, finely sliced
1 shallot, roughly chopped
1 celery stick, roughly chopped
100ml white wine
about 300ml fish stock
800g razor clams, cleaned
10g mosciame, grated
4 mint leaves, finely sliced
Clean the artichokes by taking off the external leaves until you reach the tender ones. Prepare two bowls of water and divide the lemon juice between the bowls. Pick the tender artichoke leaves one by one and put them into one of the bowls of acidulated water to prevent discolouring. Scoop out the hairy choke with a spoon, slice the artichoke hearts and place in the second bowl. Peel the artichoke stalks, slice them and add to the bowl with the leaves.
In a saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil with the garlic and chili over a medium heat. When the garlic is golden, add the shallot and celery and sweat until softened, then drain the artichoke hearts, stalks and leaves and add them to the pan. Increase the heat to high and fry for 1 minute, then pour in the wine and leave to evaporate. Add thefregola, stir for 1 minute then pour in the fish stock, cover with the lid and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the razor clams and cook for 4 – 5 minutes or until the shells open (discard any that haven’t). Adda little more stock if needed – the consistency should be more like a broth than a risotto.
When the fregola is tender but still with a little bite, remove from the heat and stir through the grated mosciame, the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and the mint. Cover with cling film and leave it to rest for a couple of minutes before serving.