Sardinian Couscous with Baby Octopus Fregola Con Moscardini

Serves 4

150g (5½/¾cup) fregola
Small handful of fresh basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sauce
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
½ teaspoon chopped fresh red chilli
1 ripe tomato finely cubed
50ml (2floz/¼cup) dry white wine
750g (1lb 10oz) baby octopus, cleaned

Imagine the normal grains of couscous as eaten in Morocco.  Then imagine giant grains about ten times the size.  This is the Sardinian fregola, which is usually made by hand: a girl’s ability to make fregola was once the benchmark for her suitability as a bride! Fregola is made of durum wheat semolina and is delicious.  Moscardini are mini octopus, which can be found frozen – but they are obviously better fresh.

Imagine the normal grains of couscous as eaten in Morocco.  Then imagine giant grains about ten times the size.  This is the Sardinian fregola, which is usually made by hand: a girl’s ability to make fregola was once the benchmark for her suitability as a bride! Fregola is made of durum wheat semolina and is delicious.  Moscardini are mini octopus, which can be found frozen – but they are obviously better fresh.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and fry the garlic and chilli for 2 minutes.  Add the tomato and wine, then simmer for about 5 minutes.  Add the octopus and cook for another 7-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the fregola in boiling salted water for 12 minutes.  Drain and add to the sauce.  Mix together well, taste for seasoning, then add the basil and serve.  You don’t need any cheese here….

This recipe is from Vegetables by Antonio Carluccio