Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Summer Flavours from Italy

We tend to think of pasta as a hearty main course, laden with rich and tasty sauces. This might seem a bit much for summer eating, when we would naturally go for lighter dishes. What you can forget that all over Italy in warmer months cooks are busy creating fresh and tasty pasta salads. Too often what we find in England is loaded with mayonnaise or swimming in dressing. In Italy they are more concerned with the flavour and quality of the sauces rather than the quantity.

Here I’ve provided the most summery of salads, using a fabulous Sardinian pasta, fregola. These are tiny pasta balls that are first sun-dried, then toasted. They are available in my special Italian Islands deli-box, but you can substitute it for cous-cous or another very small pasta shape. If you’d like to find out more about The Good Fork, the authentic Italian food we source and our varied deli-boxes, then visit or call 020 8166 1900.

Happy Eating this Summer from The Good Fork!

Sardinian Summer Salad

1 small courgette, diced
1 small carrot, diced
2 sticks of celery, diced
500ml of chicken or vegetable stock
200g of fregola
1 bay leaf
1 pinch of saffron
4 tbsps of good olive oil
1 orange, 1 lemon
3 tomatoes, chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
150g of black olives, stoned and chopped
Handful of parsley, chopped
A few leaves of basil, chopped
Freshly ground salt and pepper

  • Blanch the diced carrot, courgette and celery in a pan of boiling water for 30 seconds.  Drain and then put into a bowl of cold water, with an ice cube or three in.  This stops them being either rock solid or over cooked. After a few minutes, drain again and put to one side
  • Bring the chicken stock to the boil in a sauce pan, then add the fregola, saffron and bay leaf.  Once the pan has returned to the boil, turn down the heat a little and let it simmer for 12 -15 minutes.  The fregola should absorb most of the stock in the cooking process
  • Meanwhile chop the herbs, tomatoes, shallot and olives.  Grate the zest of the orange and lemon and put to one side.  Juice half of the orange and add a good squeeze of lemon juice – perhaps a tablespoon
  • Once the fregola is done (it should have a slightly chewy centre, being a little al dente), drain thoroughly if there is any remaining stock.  The saffron will mean it has a lovely golden colour.  Put in a large bowl to cool, add the olive oil, and stir occasionally so the grains don’t stick together
  • Add mixed the diced vegetables, herbs and citrus juice to the fregola.  Season well with salt and pepper.  Garnish with the orange and lemon zest.  Serve cool

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