Fregola with zucchini, citrus & basil

Fregola with zucchini, citrus & basil

New Feast
Alan Benson

Fregola is one of our new favourite things! It’s a toasted semolina pasta from Sardinia and utterly gorgeous to look at, as the individual grains are variegated shades of cream through to dark chestnut brown, depending on the level of toasting. It has a nutty flavour, which goes really well with sharp citrus fruit. We especially love the bitter-sour tang of ruby grapefruit, but clementines, tangelos or blood oranges (when in season) are also lovely. If you’re making your own citrus oil, you’ll need to start a day ahead of time.


Quantity Ingredient
1 litre vegetable stock or water
150g fregola
freshly ground black pepper
citrus oil, or buy a good-quality mandarin oil
50g blanched hazelnuts
1 ruby grapefruit
1 orange
2 baby zucchini, cut into tiny dice
2 spring onions, thinly sliced into rounds
1/4 cup shredded basil leaves
1/4 cup shredded mint leaves
1/4 cup snow pea tendrils

Citrus oil

Quantity Ingredient
125ml grape seed oil
125ml good-quality olive oil
2 oranges, zested
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds


  1. For the citrus oil, combine the oils in a small saucepan. Use a microplane grater to zest the oranges over the oil, to capture any oils that are released as you grate. Heat gently, just to blood temperature, then remove the pan from the heat. Leave to infuse for 24–48 hours, then strain and decant into a sterilised bottle or jar.
  2. Bring the vegetable stock to the boil and cook the fregola for 10 minutes at a healthy simmer. When cooked it should be tender, but still have a slight bite. Tip into a sieve to drain for a few minutes, then tip into a shallow tray. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle on a tablespoon of citrus oil. Toss and leave to cool.
  3. Heat a dry frying pan over a medium heat and toast the hazelnuts for 3–4 minutes, stirring frequently, until they are golden brown. Chop roughly and set aside.
  4. To prepare the grapefruit and orange, use a very sharp knife to peel them, taking care to remove all the bitter pith. Holding the fruit over a large mixing bowl to catch the juice, carefully slice each segment out of its skin casing and into the bowl.
  5. To assemble the salad, add the zucchini, spring onions, herbs and chopped hazelnuts to the fregola. Add a few tablespoons of citrus oil and toss gently to mix everything together well. Serve straight away.


  • You can buy various citrus oils from good delicatessens, but it’s easy enough to make them yourself and they are a joy to have on hand for all your salads. Our favourite is mandarin oil, although this is tricky to make successfully at home. We tend to use orange zest and the quantities here make 200 ml, as it’s not really worth making in smaller amounts. The oil will keep in the fridge in a sealed sterilised jar for up to 1 month – and we guarantee you will use it! Use a mild-flavoured olive oil, not extra-virgin, which will overpower the citrus flavour.
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