Fregola with Butternut Squash, Sage and Cranberry
I first heard of fregola while watching a cooking show a few years ago. I had never heard of it before so thought I better do some investigating. I discovered that fregola is a type of pasta from Sardinia that is similar to Israeli couscous, but is toasted giving it a unique ‘nutty’ flavor. Pasta…toasted…nutty flavor…it sure sounded good to me (although they had me at ‘pasta’)! I picked up a package at my local gourmet market and went about trying to figure out what to do with it. I did some searching but was never able to find a recipe that appealed to me. It was early fall, and I was starting to shift into my ‘autumn phase’. Butternut squash came to mind, along with a couple complimentary ‘autumn-like’ accompaniments. So, I came up with this recipe and have been very happy with the results ever since. I look forward to making this every year when the weather starts getting a little cooler. It is a great dish to serve to company because you can make it well ahead of time (I think it tastes even better the next day). It is best served hot, but it is suitable at any temperature, including midnight refrigerator raids. I look for the squash in the supermarket that is already cut into cubes which makes life so much easier. Be sure to check the ‘sell by’ dates, and make sure the squash is fresh and firm. You can peel and cut up your own squash, but be very careful and make sure to count all your fingers when you are finished!
- 500g package Fregola
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
- 2 medium yellow onions, sliced
- 18 ounces butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- ⅓ cup dried cranberries
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons butter
- Salt and pepper
- 1 ½ ounces Parmesan cheese, shaved thin
- Take the 18 ounce package of cut and peeled butternut squash (or equivalent) and toss with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, pepper and sage. Roast in a single layer in a 375 degree oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until squash is tender and lightly browned (but not mushy). Add the dried cranberries during the last 5 minutes of roasting.
- While the squash is roasting, sauté the onions in 1 tablespoon each of butter and olive oil until well browned and then remove from heat.
- Boil the fregola in a large pot of salted water until cooked (about 14 minutes). Drain, but do not rinse the fregola.
- Place the onions back over a medium high heat, and add the balsamic vinegar. Cook and stir until the vinegar has reduced just slightly. Lower the heat and add 2 tablespoons of butter and cook until melted.
- Pour the fregola into a large bowl and toss with the roasted squash, the onion mixture and the shaved parmesan cheese. Garnish with some extra shavings of Parmesan cheese.