Fregola Sarda with Roasted Vegetables and Wild Garlic Pesto

Yesterday I made my 7th notch on the 2009 BBQ bedpost. Not too shoddy considering it’s only spring. Every Brit knows you need to make the most of each glimpse of sunshine – case in point being this very next day as we are dealt a dose of predictable bank holiday gloom. Cloud and drizzle hangs over London, no doubt putting paid to plans of picnics, walks and BBQ’s everywhere. By the end of the summer though, I will have grilled, smoked and charred every ingredient I can think of over a hot kettle of coals. There will be memories of beers that flowed, fingers that got burned and I will probably have gained half a stone.

Our most major BBQ achievement this year has been actually bothering to find out how to use the thing properly. I always wondered why slow cooking joints just didn’t happen until I consulted google when making this lamb. Still, mustn’t get too cocky – there are always lessons to be learned. The moral of the story this week? Don’t forget your drip tray.

You see, this salad was actually just an afterthought addition to the BBQ, the leftovers from the previous night’s dinner, out of place with the rest of the menu but delicious nonetheless. The main event was supposed to be these jerk pork ribs, big meaty beasts that had been sucking up that spicy sweet seasoning all night long.

The butcher had sold out of regular ribs so I opted for strips of pork belly with the ribs still attached, figuring that more meat is clearly a good thing. Knowing they would need long cooking I started them in the oven with the intention of finishing them on the BBQ. In my excitement however, I forgot to position the drip tray to catch all the fat and just slapped them right on.

I wandered off for literally a minute before I heard screams from outside and turned to see 2 foot high flames leaping from the Weber. The ribs were sticks of charcoal within 30 seconds. Ruined. In true carnivore fashion though, we picked through the burnt remains for nuggets of meat in the kind of frenzied, primal display that can only take place among good friends. That is why I bring you pasta.

The Fregola Sarda is a toasted Sardinian pasta with an earthy, nutty flavour, made by rubbing with the hands to form crumbs (‘fregare’ apparently means ‘to rub’). It is immensely toothsome and satisfying – a pure carb hit to help me on my way to that extra half stone. I mixed it with some roasted aubergines, peppers and a few stray spears of aspargus.

For the wild garlic, a big thank you must go to The Food Urchin, who has been kindly supplying the food blogging community with a seemingly endless supply of plants from the bottom of his garden. A handful of leaves make fantastic pesto, with none of that raw garlic edge you get when using more than half a clove in the regular variety.

Determined not to let the rib fail get us down, we took inspiration from the flames for dessert – bananas flambéd in rum with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. Classic hot and cold and sweet caramelised goodness. The remaining rum went into mojitos, which we enjoyed while sprawled on sofas, cradling our over-stuffed bellies and bickering over a board game. There may even have been dozing at some point. Someone bring me a pipe and slippers.

Fregola Sarda with Roasted Vegetables and Wild Garlic Pesto

1 packet fregola sarda
3 bell peppers (I used two red, 1 yellow)
1 large aubergine
4 spring onions, just the green parts really, sliced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Wild Garlic Pesto

1 handful wild garlic leaves, well washed
50g pine nuts
50g parmesan
Olive oil (about 100ml)
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice

– Preheat the oven to Gas 6/200C
– Cut the peppers into wedges and the aubergine into inch cubes. Spread the peppers and aubergines out on different oven trays then drizzle each with olive oil and season. Roast them for about 30 minutes or until soft and slightly charred. Allow to cool then chop to desired size.
– Cook the fregola sarda according to packet instructions (about 15 minutes in boiling salted water)
– When the pasta is done, drain and mix with the vegetables then add the sliced spring onions.
– Make the pesto by either putting the wild garlic leaves in a blender with the pine nuts or crushing them together in a pestle and mortar (good for stress relief). Then stir through the grated parmesan, lemon juice and some salt and pepper. Taste and adjust as necessary (add more cheese, seasoning, whatever). Stir the pesto through the pasta and serve.

Category: Barbecue, Lunchbox, Main Dishes, Pasta, Salads, Side Dishes, Vegetables 25 comments »

25 Responses to “Fregola Sarda with Roasted Vegetables and Wild Garlic Pesto”

  1. Jeff

    I can’t tell you how many times I have done mistakes like that with a grill. Crap my worst one was snapping some pics of pork chops on the grill, heading inside to download the pictures, and completely forgetting about the grill. Walked outside about 30 minutes later to trashed pork chops. Dohh…

    Not a huge aubergine fan but I bet I could stand it in that. Looks amazing!

    Jeffs last blog post..BBQ Pork St. Louis Style Spareribs

  2. Su-Lin

    Oh fabulous – there’s a bunch of wild garlic in my fridge and I was just thinking of some pesto!

    Su-Lins last blog post..Spaghettini with Wild Garlic

  3. Lizzie

    Great post – I love fregola. Where did you buy your pack from?

    I too have done the very same – over eagerness of getting lovely meaty bits on the fire. Lots of fire!

  4. The Graphic Foodie

    The fregola sarda looks wonderful, lovely colours. Never seen it over here.

    My condolences on the ribs – I lost a chop on the barbaque last week to a seagull who swooped down and nabbed it fearlessly through the flames. Took the biggest one as well. Grrr.

    The Graphic Foodies last blog post..RECIPE: Rhubarb crumble with ginger and almonds

  5. Thom

    First your recipes and your blog are superb! I am from Oregon and our weather is similar to yours…well maybe we have a little more sunshine. I have three BBQ’s and I have them under cover, so I don’t care if it snows, I am out there cooking something. I do follow your blog so keep up the good recipes and the barbecuing. Best to you!

  6. Helen

    Jeff – I’m not the only one then! At least you actually left them for 30 minutes, mine were literally on there for 30 seconds. Charred to a crisp.
    Su-lin – It works really well in pesto, no raw taste at all.
    Lizzie – In East Dulwich Deli. It was well expensive, a fiver. I won’t be using it very often.
    Graphic Foodie – ha ha ha! cheeky seagull.
    Thom – Thanks very much :)

  7. Ollie

    The fregola looks great. Shame about the barbie explosion, but glad to hear there were a few bits of meat you could still enjoy. What board game were you playing? They can spark the most fearsome arguments.

    Ollies last blog post..Oatmeal Raisin Cookies [Recipe]

  8. Gourmet Chick

    I am a new convert to fregola and love it. Brilliant also served with seafood as it soaks up all the fishy juices. My envy of your bbq continues unabated – oh for some outdoor space.

    Gourmet Chicks last blog post..Au Bonheur Des Dames (Gourmet Chick in Morocco)

  9. Helen

    Hi Ollie, we were playing ‘Risk’ – my mate found it in his flat when moving out. It’s well geeky and involves little plastic men trying to conquer countries. I made the mistake of spreading myself to too thinly while trying to take the whole of Asia and lost miserably.
    Gourmet Chick – I love the idea of it soaking up the fishy juices – yum!

  10. Helen Yuet Ling Pang

    I’m impressed! We’re still TALKING about getting the BBQ out and cleaning it. Wild garlic pesto sounds delicious. We’ve been making pesto with our nettles recently!

    Helen Yuet Ling Pangs last blog post..Fox & Anchor (gastropub) – London, England (7.5/10)

  11. Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen

    Great post Helen! Sometimes things work out and sometimes they don’t. But you turned this event around and still managed to have a wonderful time with friends! :)

    Jenn AKA The Leftover Queens last blog post..May Foodie Blogroll Giveaways!

  12. Helen

    Ah, Risk. I almost ruined Christmas with that game. Poor Mum just ended up cowering down in Australia!

  13. TheBoyDoneFood

    Oh my god I want to dive into that chocolate sauce, it looks fantastic.

    TheBoyDoneFoods last blog post..Banh Mi recipe. Ooh look it rhymes.

  14. Alex

    I love it when a salad is more substantial than just leaves… this looks fab.

    Alexs last blog post..Tomato and Mozzarella Tart

  15. OysterCulture

    I have to say if ever a consolation dinner had such superlatives deservedly applied this is it. The wild garlic pesto sounds incredible, as does everything else..

    OysterCultures last blog post..Something Fishy

  16. joey

    I have yet to try wild garlic…it sounds delicious! I already am a garlic lover so I am sure I would love it :)

    Sorry to hear about the belly going up in flames but that pasta looks and sounds wonderful!

    joeys last blog post..Quadruple Chocolate Loaf Cake

  17. David Hall

    Every time I read one of your recipes it instantly becomes my favourite! Also, spookily, the bench you take your photos on looks like mine. Have you been sneaking up North and photographing in my kitchen?

    Dave x

    David Halls last blog post..Learn to Churn

  18. Lennie Nash

    Delicious! Was given some wild garlic by a vicar from Cumbria (long story). It’s been sitting in my kitchen, and I’ve been wondering what to do with it. Pesto’s a great idea.

    While on the subject, I made some common or garden pesto with a bunch of basil leaves that needed using, and added crushed macadamia nuts (that needed using) instead of pine nuts, and it was delicious.

    Macadamia nuts are also supposed to be good for the heart, but then I smoke so it won’t make much difference to me.

    Anyway, loved your post, and will now crack on with that wild garlic pesto. Let you know how it works out, and whether the vicar likes it.

    All the best,


    Lennie Nashs last blog post..Waiter! There’s A Snake In My Broccoli!

  19. Nate

    Since you’re using an ingredient from someone else’s garden, you should enter the pesto recipe in the latest “Grow Your Own” roundup, hosted by The Daily Tiffin this month.

    Nates last blog post..Pavlova Recipe

  20. Jonathan

    I love the little pasta shrapnel. Very cool. I’m going to cook me some of that.

    Plus, the area around Cowie’s house is strewn with wild garlic that wafts through the air making you feel as though you’re in an outdoor French kitchen. I’m going to be using some soon thanks to you.

    Sorry to hear about the BBQ fail. Blogging fails is the way forward. If you aren’t making the odd boo boo you aren’t trying hard enough. e.g. chilli chocolate brownies = most disgusting fail to date.

    Jonathans last blog post..Chilli Cool

  21. manju

    Mmmm, been looking for some wild garlic (they’re given the unfortunate name of “ramps” here) when we’re out in the woods, but no luck. Sounds like a great pairing with lamb…yummm…

    manjus last blog post..Streusel Rhubarb Cake

  22. Jenn-air Outdoor Cooking Parts

    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. Most are full of garbage, but this is really interesting – and useful too! I particulary enjoyed the Fregola Sarda with Roasted Vegetables and Wild Garlic Pesto — Food Stories post. I’ll be back often, starting next Sunday. Kind regards, Lily.

  23. shayma

    really beautiful photography in this post, helen. love it. your blog is gorgeous.

  24. JoAnn

    Where do you buy Fregola Sarda?

  25. Helen

    Hi JoAnn. You can buy it in delis. You could also search Google and order it online.

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