Fregola with Grilled Red Onions and Pine Nuts

Also known as Italian couscous, fregola is made from semolina flour; grains of the medium variety are about the size of small capers. You can find it at specialty food shops and Italian markets.


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  • Servings: 10

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  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 large red onions, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 1/4 pounds medium fregola (about 3 cups)
  • 1 cup pine nuts (5 ounces)
  • 4 medium carrots, finely diced
  • 3 celery ribs, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley

How to make this recipe

  1. On a shallow platter, combine 2 tablespoons of the olive oil with 2 tablespoons of the vinegar and season generously with salt and pepper. Add the onion slices and turn to coat, keeping the slices intact; let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

  2. Light a grill or preheat the broiler. Grill the onions over a medium-hot fire or broil for about 8 minutes, until softened and charred in spots. Return the onions to the platter and let cool. Coarsely chop the onions and transfer them to a large bowl.

  3. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the fregola until al dente. Drain well, shaking off any excess water. Return the fregola to the pot, add 1/4 cup of the oil and toss to coat. Spread the fregola out on a large rimmed baking sheet to cool.

  4. Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the pine nuts and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until golden, about 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels and let cool. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet along with the carrots and celery and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool.

  5. Add the fregola to the bowl with the grilled onions. Add the carrots and celery, pine nuts, cilantro, parsley and the remaining 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Make Ahead

The salad can be refrigerated overnight. Serve cool or at room temperature.

Contributed By Photo © Reed Davis Published July 2003

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