Sardinian Fregola with Lamb

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.

Sardinian fregola with lamb

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!

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!

toasted Sardinian fregola in glass jar

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.

ingredients for Sardinian fregola with lamb

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.

chopped onions and sun-dried tomatoes in white bowl with 2 bay leaves

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.

cubes of lamb meat in skillet with olive oil

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 cubes, onions, sun-dried tomatoes and bay leaves in skillet

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.

lamb cubes, onions, sun-dried tomatoes and bay leaves cooking in skillet

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.

uncooked fregula in skillet with broth and cooked lamb in white bowl

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.

cooked fregola in skillet

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.

cooked lamb cubes and cooked fregola together in skillet

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!

Sardinian fregola with lamb

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!

Buon Appetito!

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Sardinian fregola with lamb
5 from 22 votes
Sardinian fregola with lamb
Sardinian fregola with lamb
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
50 mins

Sardinian fregola with lamb is a unique recipe made with fregola, a pasta that is unique to Sardinia. In this traditional pasta dish, the lamb is cooked very simply without any spices or strong seasoning.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian, Mediterranean, Sardinia
Keyword: authentic Italian pasta recipe, fregola, fregula, Italian food, Italian recipe, lamb, Sardinian recipe
Servings: 4
Author: Jacqueline De Bono
  • 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)
  1. 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.

  2. Heat some olive oil in a deep skillet and add the lamb and brown it on all sides over a medium heat.

  3. Add the onion, bay leaves and sundried tomatoes and continue cooking over a medium heat until the onions have softened.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. Serve immediately with pecorino Romano if required.

Recipe Notes

Some people also make this dish with tomato passata or fresh peeled sauce tomatoes.You can choose to sub the sun-dried tomatoes with 500g peeled tomatoes or passata if you wish.

I used meaty back chops to make this recipe. I used the bones to make a simple broth beforehand. Other cuts of lamb such as fillet or leg would work too. Cooking times may need to be adjusted to make sure the lamb isn’t under or overcooked.

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  • Avatar
    October 19, 2019 2:17 am

    Jacqui, we are a big lamb lovers and pasta lovers as well. We had a soup at a restaurant in Grover Beach which had fregola and now I am dying to try making my own with lamb! I see that I can purchase it both toasted or not. Your recipe does not specify which to use. I have no problem toasting my own, I do that with buckwheat groats and couscous but was wondering what you recommend

    • Jacqui
      October 19, 2019 8:53 am

      Hi David, Thanks for your comment. I made this recipe with toasted fregola but you can use fresh fregola too! Personally I like toasted fregola because it adds a slightly nutty flavour! Do let me know how it turns out if you make this dish. I have another fregola recipe I want to publish soon which is fregola with chickpeas. Also very good!

  • Avatar
    Eden | Sweet Tea and Thyme
    September 23, 2019 2:54 pm

    We love lamb in our house! This recipe is going to be well loved here, especially since my son is a big pasta lover, too.

  • Avatar
    Claire | The Simple, Sweet Life
    September 23, 2019 3:28 am

    I’ve never heard of fregola before, but it sounds delicious! I love that this dish includes lamb. Can’t wait to give it a try!

  • Avatar
    Rebecca Blackwell
    September 22, 2019 7:57 pm

    I am such a pasta lover, but somehow have managed to live my entire life without having ever heard of Fregola. Now I can’t wait to try it! I’ve also never made a pasta dish that involves lamb. These oversights on my part must be remedied immediately. 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing such a unique, delicious looking recipe!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      September 23, 2019 2:53 am

      Thank you, Rebecca! Hope you love fregola as much as we do!

  • Avatar
    September 22, 2019 7:31 pm

    I’ve never tried fregola, but this recipe looks so good! I love the addition of Lamb!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      September 23, 2019 2:55 am

      Thank you, Shanika! Lamb is such flavorful meat!

  • Avatar
    September 21, 2019 3:35 pm

    I love using lamb to shake up the usual beef or chicken routine. This dish would be so good on a lazy Sunday with a nice bottle of wine.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      September 23, 2019 2:58 am

      That sounds perfect Sharon! Lamb is my favourite Sunday meat!

  • Avatar
    Stine Mari
    September 21, 2019 6:37 am

    Lamb is in season here now and I’ll have to look for that fregola. I can’t wait to make it – yum!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      September 23, 2019 2:59 am

      Hope you love it as much as we do!

  • Avatar
    September 20, 2019 7:27 pm

    That pasta looks and sounds amazing. I would love to make this for my family but a vegetarian.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      September 23, 2019 3:01 am

      Thank you, Sophie! You can definitely adapt recipes to make them vegetarian.

  • Avatar
    September 19, 2019 10:19 pm

    Thank you for this recipe, I had no idea Sardinia had this kind of pasta. I can see how this could go really well with lamb, it must be delicious.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      September 23, 2019 3:03 am

      Thank you, Eva, it really is delicious!

  • Avatar
    September 19, 2019 7:14 pm

    My husband loves lamb and am sure he will love this. Thank you for sharing this recipe. Will be trying.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      September 23, 2019 3:04 am

      Thanks, Lathiya! We love lamb too, hope your husband enjoys it!

  • Avatar
    September 18, 2019 3:56 am

    What a deliciously beautiful dish! I love the combination of flavors. I can’t wait to try! YUM!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      September 23, 2019 3:06 am

      Thank you, Jess!

  • Avatar
    September 18, 2019 2:21 am

    Lamb is one of my favorites, and I love that you paired it with sun-dried tomatoes — such a great combo! Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      September 23, 2019 3:07 am

      Ours too! Thank you, Amanda!

  • Avatar
    September 17, 2019 7:10 pm

    We don’t eat lamb a lot but now that I have a good lamb recipe, I have to give it a try. It looks flavorful!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      September 23, 2019 3:08 am

      Hope you love it Neli! Lamb is so delicious in this recipe.

  • Avatar
    Kelly Anthony
    September 15, 2019 10:38 pm

    We also love lamb at our house especially my girls. This sardinian fregola is sure to be a hit and on the regular rotation.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      September 16, 2019 3:41 am

      We are big fans of lamb too! Hope they love it!

  • Avatar
    Dawn Conklin
    September 14, 2019 3:32 pm

    I have never heard of fregola before, but this looks so good! I am always up for trying new things 🙂 Going to see about ordering it tho since I am in the US – I will check out the store you recommended. Occasionally we will find specialty items in local stores, but I haven’t seen this before.

  • Avatar
    Denisse Salinas
    September 14, 2019 3:18 pm

    I love the bold flavors of Sardinian Cuisine! This pasta dish sounds right down my alley – comforting and hearty and perfect for fall and winter!

  • Avatar
    September 14, 2019 2:46 pm

    This dish looks so interesting and delicious! Perfect for a healthy balanced dinner or lunch ♥

  • Avatar
    Annie @ Annie’s Noms
    September 14, 2019 2:35 pm

    I’ve never heard of fregola before, but this dish looks wonderful! I used to not really like lamb, but recently I’ve fallen in love with it so we’ll definitely be trying this!

  • Avatar
    Veena Azmanov
    September 14, 2019 12:39 pm

    Flavorful and looks delicious. I love it.

  • Avatar
    Jeannette (Jay Joy)
    September 14, 2019 10:17 am

    Is it bad that I have never heard of fregola before? So its a different type of couscous, interesting. This traditional Sardinian fregola with lamb recipe looks like amazing comfort food.

  • Avatar
    September 13, 2019 7:11 pm

    Incredible hearty meal! Lamb is a great addition, and I’ve never heard of sardinian fregola before! Can’t wait to try it

  • Avatar
    September 13, 2019 7:05 pm

    So much flavor in this recipe…and so easy too! Love the specialty ingredients like fregola and lamb. Too yummy! Thanks for sharing!

  • Avatar
    Beth Neels
    September 13, 2019 6:51 pm

    We have a local Italian grocer and I am running over there to find fregola! I know they have lamb too! This looks so good and my husband’s birthday is coming up, can’t wait to make it for him!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      September 16, 2019 3:40 am

      Thank you, Beth! I hope he loves it (and has a wonderful birthday!).

  • Avatar
    Lisa | Garlic & Zest
    September 13, 2019 5:49 pm

    I don’t believe I’ve ever seen fregola in the stores here in Florida, but I’ll bet I could find it at an Italian market. This dish looks warm and hearty — and I think your lamb stock makes all the difference.

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      September 16, 2019 3:39 am

      Thank you Lisa! I am sure an Italian market would sell it!

  • Avatar
    September 13, 2019 5:12 pm

    I love reading about cultural recipes. I am going to hunt for fregola next time I visit an Italian specialty shop in Houston. This looks divine!

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      September 16, 2019 3:38 am

      Thank you Alyssa, we love sharing our passion for pasta!

  • Avatar
    September 13, 2019 11:16 am

    So yummy looking it makes my mouth water have you seen pakistani food?

    • Avatar
      The Pasta Project
      September 16, 2019 3:36 am

      Hi Mehmood! We love Pakistani food too, Biryani and Raita are favourites!

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