This recipe for garlic roasted prawns with fregola sarda is a must keep for any seafood lover. We show you how to bring out the most flavours with a few simple ingredients and turn them into a restaurant quality dish, perfect to show off at home.
Mostly I use fregola sarda in a one-pot dish similar to risotto. If you have prepared risotto before you know the most important ingredient is the stock, it has to be packed with flavour. To make our prawn fregola recipe stand out, we did exactly that!
We roasted prawn shells, then simmered them and turned them into a rich "bisque" like prawn stock. I encourage you to do the same. You will not only be left with a delicious, deep and creamy stock, but you will also be using every part of the prawn which is a good thing!
When I added the prawn stock to the toasted fregola, it filled the kitchen with a heavenly aroma that left me dreaming about a trip to Sardinia....Garlic roasted prawns with fregola sarda is celebrating la dolce vita☺
WHAT IS FREGOLA?
Did you know that fregola is actually a pasta and not a grain? Yes, fregola is a pasta speciality from Sardinia, an island in Italy. Even so fregola looks like cous-cous or Middle Eastern moghrabieh, it is made from semolina flour. And believe it or not, fregola is hand rolled!! While I love making fresh pasta fregola is just too time-consuming for
Some more interesting facts - While pasta is traditionally dried, fregola is baked in the oven. The small grains are rustic, varying in colours from yellow, gold and brown due to the baking effect. They taste nutty and can be used in salads, soups or saucy pasta dishes.
INGREDIENTS TO MAKE OUR FREGOLA SARDA RECIPE
Here are the ingredients you need to make prawn fregola:
Fresh Prawns-preferably ask your fishmonger for king prawns or U10 prawns. If you can only find peeled prawns ask for the prawn shells. Many fishmongers keep the shells for their regular clients and for Chefs like me😉
Prawn stock-follow our recipe below to make the prawn stock, alternatively you can buy a seafood stock or lobster bisque. If you use a readymade bisque, you might have to thin it out.
Fregola- is not always available in supermarkets but can be found in gourmet shops or online otherwise.
Vegetables-carrots, celery, brown onions, red peppers, tomatoes and garlic are the vegetables needed for the fregola and the stock
Lemon-to finish cooking the prawns
Herbs and Spices-bay leaf, thyme, parsley, smoked paprika flakes, salt and pepper
Tomato paste- gives the stock a darker colour and adds tomato flavour.
Olive oil and Butter- olive oil for cooking and butter to finish the fregola. Butter can be left out if you are dairy free.
Additionally we used a fresh herb mix to garnish the plate but this is optional.
HOW TO MAKE THE PRAWN STOCK
As mentioned earlier, the stock for the fregola is what gives the dish it's real flavour. Hence spending time to prepare the stock first, is key to this recipe.
Here are the steps for making the prawn stock:
In a wide pot over high heat, cook the shells and heads of the prawns until they turn orange.
Add roughly chopped vegetables like carrots, celery, onion, red pepper and garlic.
Cook for a few minutes and add tomato paste.
Roast the paste with the prawn shells and add any tomato trimmings (part with the seeds of the tomato) before deglazing with white wine.
Now add the smoked paprika flakes, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper and cover with enough water.
Simmer for 20 minutes and afterwards mix the entire stock base in a kitchen blender for about 1 minute.
Strain the prawn stock through a fine sieve and keep warm for cooking the fregola.
The prawn stock made with shells and heads from 12 prawns gave me 950ml (4 cups) stock. Even though this step takes some time, it makes all the difference.
AS A NOTE: The stock can be prepared ahead of time. If you plan on making a large amount of stock, you can freeze it in zip lock bags or as cubes and use when required.
HOW TO MAKE FREGOLA SARDA WITH PRAWNS
Fregola is cooked in many different traditional recipes, in particular it is prepared with clams or scallops however our favourite way of cooking fregola is in a flavourful prawn stock and served with Garlic Roasted Prawns.
Combining simple ingredients, makes this a rustic, hearty and delicious dish, flavours of which will transport you right back to the beautiful Island of Sardinia!
The dish is prepared in two steps. First we cook the fregola and then we roast the prawns in a pan separately. The fregola itself is cooked similar to a risotto. Here is how it's done:
All the vegetables are diced and then seared on high heat in a wide pot with olive oil.
Then the fregola and the diced tomatoes are added and seared with the vegetables for 2-3 minutes on medium heat.
Now the prawn stock is added. Add the stock ladle by ladle and make sure the fregola is always submerged in stock to ensure the pasta cooks evenly.
Cook the fregola for about 20 minutes on slow simmer stirring occasionally. You want the fregola to stay al dente (with a bite).
Finish the fregola with butter and the chopped parsley.
Serve the fregola sarda as it is with the roasted prawns on the side if it is meant to be shared.
If plated individually, add the fregola in a bowl and place the prawns on the top. Garnish with herbs.
AS A NOTE: If you leave the fregola for too long after it has cooked it will soak up all the liquid. Keep some prawn stock on the side in case you are not serving the fregola immediately. To bring back the fregola to a smooth consistency, add the prawn stock and heat it up again.
WHAT CAN YOU USE INSTEAD OF FREGOLA SARDA?
Fregola may be difficult to find so you can substitute equal amounts of:
- Orzo a rice shaped pasta typically used in soups in Italian cuisine
- OR - Israeli couscous could be a good option! Also known as Pearl couscous, this is a type of toasted pasta originating from Israel
- Otherwise, Risotto works well too! It is a special type of rice used in Italian cuisine that has the ability to absorb quite a bit of liquid without going mushy
AS A NOTE: Cooking time of the recommended substitutes may vary, so keep extra stock handy while cooking
HOW TO PREPARE AND COOK THE PRAWNS
Assuming you bought the prawns un-peeled, we have to clean them first. A trick to clean prawns faster, is to carefully remove the head so that the intestinal tract comes out along with it.
To peel the prawns, with your fingers go along the belly of the prawn and crack the shell open starting from the head, working your way down to the tail. The shell should easily come off at this point, leaving you with just the prawn meat.
You can clean the prawn entirely or leave the tail part on. If you want to make sure your prawns are perfectly clean, run the knife along the back and take out the black thread like stuff.
To roast the prawns, place a pan on high heat. Add olive oil and sear the prawns on each side for 2 minutes.
Add chopped garlic and thyme sprigs and cook on low heat for another minute tossing the prawns through the garlic and olive oil. Give the prawns a good squeeze of lemon juice and they are done!
5 MORE DELICIOUS PASTA RECIPES
If you like Pasta as much as we do and are excited to try something new in the kitchen, then here are some more ideas to help you make delicious meals with pantry staples like dried pasta, minced meat and hearty vegetables.
Scroll the list for inspiration from us and some of our fellow food bloggers:
Brown butter Prawn Pasta by Another Food Blogger
Slow cooked Pasta Bake by Create Bake Make
Pasta alla Puttanesca by Jaimie Eats
Italian food is incredibly diverse - emphasis on fresh, local ingredients, and letting ingredients speak for themselves are a few characteristics that make Italian food one of the most popular cuisines in the world.
But if you are looking for a lighter prawn dish make our chilled avocado and prawn soup, delicious too.
Our recipe for Garlic Roasted Prawns with Fregola Sarda is everything you could want in a typical Italian dish. Prepared with simple but high quality ingredients, this dish is a must try!
Garlic Roasted Prawns with Fregola Sarda
for the prawn fregola
- 12 U10 Prawns
- 95 g carrots (cut from 1 large carrot) peeled and diced
- 46 g celery (cut from 1 large celery stalk) diced
- 90 g brown onions (cut from 1 medium size onion) peeled and diced
- 95 g red peppers (cut from 1 red pepper) diced
- 2 medium tomatoes seeds removed and diced
- 1 clove garlic peeled and chopped
- 2 tablespoon parsley chopped
- 2 thyme sprigs
- ½ lemon
- 50 g butter
- 230 g fregola sarda
- 4 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper
for the prawn stock
- 300 g prawn shells and heads
- 1½ l water
- 2 tablespoon paste
- 2 thyme sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika flakes
- 70 ml white wine
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper
for the prawn stock
- Wash the prawn shells and heads under running cold water. Drain the excess water.
- Prepare all vegetables for the fregola sarda and keep the end cuts and leftovers from the carrots, celery, onions, red peppers, garlic and the bit from the tomato with the seeds for the prawn stock.
- Place a medium size pot on high heat. Add 2 tablespoon olive oil and sweat the prawn shells and heads until they turn orange and fragrant.
- Add the vegetable trimmings and cook for a few more minutes. Then add the tomato paste and tomato trimmings. Sweat for 2-3 minutes and deglaze with the white wine.
- Now add the smoked paprika flakes, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper and add about 1½ litre (6⅓ cups) water.
- Simmer the stock for 20 minutes, remove the bay leaf and mix the entire stock base in a kitchen blender for about 1 minute. Strain the prawn stock through a fine sieve and keep warm while you start cooking the fregola.
for the fregola
- In a wide pot heat up 2 tablespoon olive oil. Add the diced vegetables and sweat for 3-4 minutes. Add the fregola and then the diced tomatoes and cook for another 2-3 minutes on medium heat.
- Add enough prawn stock to cover the fregola and stir well. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes and keep adding more prawn stock whenever required. you want the fregola to be submerged in the stock continuously to ensure the pasta cooks evenly.
- When the fregola has turned al dente (with a bite) add the butter and parsley and adjust the seasoning with salt.
for the prawns
- To clean the prawns carefully remove the head so that the intestinal tract comes out along with it.
- To peel the prawns, with your fingers go along the belly of the prawn and crack the shell open starting from the head, working your way down to the tail. The shell should easily come off, leaving you with just the prawn meat.
- You can clean the prawn entirely or leave the tail part on. If you want to make sure your prawns are perfectly clean, run the knife along the back and take out the black thread like stuff.
- To roast the prawns place a pan on high heat. Add olive oil and sear the prawns on each side for 2 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and thyme sprigs and cook on low heat for another minute tossing the prawns trough the garlic and olive oil. Finish the prawns with a splash of lemon juice.
for plating up
- Serve the fregola in the pan itself with the roasted prawns on the side if it is meant to be shared.
- If plated individually, add the fregola in a bowl and place the prawns on the top. Garnish with herbs.