Sardinian Fregola with Lamb.
Sardinian fregola with lamb may seem similar to North African couscous with lamb! However, fregola is a pasta that is unique to Sardinia and in this traditional recipe, the lamb is cooked very simply without any spices or strong seasoning.
Fregola sarda con agnello.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a big lamb lover! Sadly, lamb isn’t so traditional here in Northern Italy! In fact, it’s only widely available at Easter. However, I can find very meaty back ribs at one particular supermarket. So, I used those to make this fabulous Sardinian fregola with lamb!
The advantage of using ribs was that I could make homemade broth with the bones. I used this broth to cook the fregola. I think it gave the dish an even more intense flavour. But, if you don’t want to make your own lamb broth you can use a normal chicken, veg or beef boullion to make this delicious dish!
What is Sardinian fregola?
Fregola is a unique pasta from Sardinia. I recently featured it for the first time here on The Pasta Project, making it the 65th type of pasta I have used and written about in my posts and recipes so far! I say so far because here in Italy there are over 360 different types of pasta (some say 400+). My goal is to ultimately share recipes with ALL the kinds of pasta that are made and eaten in Italy.
This Sardinian fregola with lamb recipe is the second fregola recipe I have published. The first was fregola with clams, a divine traditional recipe that seafood lovers will really enjoy.
You can read more about the history and origins of this pasta in my post about Sardinian fregola, also called fregula. But, in short fregola is small balls of durum wheat semolina and water, rolled by hand and usually toasted in the oven. This pasta is uniquely Sardinian and not found in other Italian regions.
Where can you buy fregola?
Fregola isn’t as widely available as other typical Italian pastas. But, it can be bought online or at some Italian food shops. I know US readers can buy it online from Supermarket Italy, a well-known online gourmet Italian food store that I worked with recently.
Lamb in Sardinia
Although lamb isn’t so popular in Northern Italy, it’s very traditional in Sardinia. In fact, Sardinia is home to 4 million sheep and the island produces most of Italy’s pecorino Romano! Needless to say, there are quite a few delicious traditional Sardinian lamb recipes including lamb pasta dishes. Apart from this Sardinian fregola with lamb, you might also like the malloreddus (Sardinian gnocchi) with lamb ragu.
Making this Sardinian Fregola with lamb.
Like so many other traditional Italian pasta recipes, this dish is pretty simple to make. Apart from the lamb and the fregola, all you need is some sun-dried tomatoes, bay leaves, onion, white wine and broth (lamb, chicken, vegetable or beef). The only other seasoning in this version of Sardinian fregola with lamb is salt and pepper. However, I have come across versions which include herbs such as parsley or fresh thyme and garlic.
Some people also make this dish with tomato passata or fresh peeled sauce tomatoes. You can choose to sub the sun-dried tomatoes with those if you wish. The sun-dried tomatoes I used were actually semi-dried, so still a bit soft. They were preserved in olive oil. I added some of the oil to the pan as I think it adds a great flavour.
If using sun-dried tomatoes that aren’t preserved in oil you will need to soften them by leaving them to soak in water for a little while. Tomatoes that have been preserved in salt need to be thoroughly rinsed under cold running water.
I’m sure you’ll love this recipe.
Whichever kind of tomatoes you decide to use, I’m sure you’re going to fall in love with this traditional Sardinian fregola with lamb recipe. The first time round, we loved it so much that I made it again after only 3 or 4 days!
If you do try this fabulous fregola lamb recipe, I’d love to hear what you think. Please write a comment here on the blog or post a comment on the Pasta Project Facebook page.
Your feedback means a lot to me!
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Sardinian fregola with lamb
- 1 kg lamb (2.2lbs) I used back chops ( see recipe notes below)
- 8-10 sun-dried tomatoes I used semi-dried tomatoes (see recipe notes below)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 onion
- 1/2 glass white wine
- 1 lt lamb broth (4-5 cups) you can also use beef, veg or chicken broth
- 300 g fregola
- salt to taste
- ground black pepper to taste
- 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- pecorino romano grated (optional)
- Peel and chop the onion. Chop the sun-dried tomatoes into small pieces (if using). Cut the lamb into small cubes, trimming most the fat as you go.
- Heat some olive oil in a deep skillet and add the lamb and brown it on all sides over a medium heat.
- Add the onion, bay leaves and sundried tomatoes and continue cooking over a medium heat until the onions have softened.
Add the white wine and once the alcohol has evaporated add 2 ladles of broth. Continue
cooking until the lamb is cooked through. About 15 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.
Remove the lamb from the pan and set aside. Remove the bay leaves then add half of the
remaining broth. Bring the broth to a boil and then add the fregola. Reduce the heat and cook the fregola as you would rice for a risotto. Stirring frequently and adding more stock if the sauce dries out. If you run out of stock, you can also use water.
When the fregola is cooked (about 15 minutes) add the lamb back to the skillet. Mix everything together well and cook for a couple of minutes so the lamb gets hot again and the fregola absorbs more of the lamb flavours.
- Serve immediately with pecorino Romano if required.