It is small, hard, nuggets of pasta, of a coarse, rustic look and texture. The size is not uniform, though you can buy it sorted into a range of sizes of fine, medium, and coarse, with the medium being about the size of a small peppercorn. The colour is not uniform either: the colour is sort of the mixed colour of toasted breadcrumbs.
A larger version is known as Fregolone.
The nuggets are made from semolina flour and water, rubbed together by hand to form nuggets, which are then dried then toasted. Some home cooks making their own put a pinch of finely ground saffron in it; the water is often lightly salted.
Fregola can be served as a side dish, or used as a base on top of which the main course is served.
It is often used in seafood soups, and in seafood dishes with clams and shrimp. It can be served on its own with tomato sauce and grated cheese, or used in a stuffing in poultry. Other traditional preparations mix it with beans, or potatoes and celery.
Fregola can be used in risotto-like dishes called “Succú”, or in cold salads.
Unless it is being added to a soup, it is usually simmered first in water or broth to cook and soften it.
Popular brands include La Casa del Grano, Rustichella and Tanda & Spada.
Cook in a generous amount of boiling water for about 10 minutes, until al dente. Simmer rather than boil, to allow time for it to absorb the liquid. Drain afterward, then fluff with a fork.
When cooling for salads, you may want to spread the drained Fregola out on a large baking sheet to prevent clumping.
Mograbia, Israeli Couscous, Orzo
Fregola may have originated in North Africa, or the Middle East, as it is similar to couscous.
Aka Fregola sarda, aka Fregula, aka Fregolone. From the Italian verb “fregare”, meaning “to rub.”
Occasionally in English called Sardinian couscous or Italian couscous.
Fletcher, Janet. Sardinia’s best-kept secret comes out: Bay Area chefs tackle an obscure Italian pasta. San Francisco Chronicle. 14 January 2004.