Fregola is another distinctively Sardinian ingredient. It is a type of semolina-based pasta, similar to couscous, that is used in soups and stuffings. Here, Giovanni uses it to take rice pudding to a whole new level.
- 500 ml (2 cups) milk
- 375 ml (1½ cups) pouring cream
- 55 g (¼ cup) caster sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 cinnamon quill
- 250 g (1¼ cups) fregola (see Note)
- 80 g (½ cup) sultanas
- 100 g pine nuts, toasted
- 1 lemon, zested
- ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 25 g unsalted butter
Poached strawberries and rhubarb
- 220 g (1 cup) white sugar
- 250 g strawberries, hulled
- 1 bunch rhubarb, trimmed, cut into 4 cm pieces
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Drink 2008 Cantine di Dolianova Moscato di Cagliari. Or try a medium-bodied, late-harvest dessert wine.
To poach fruit, place 160 ml water and sugar in a large saucepan over high heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low and add strawberries and rhubarb. Simmer for 10 minutes or until fruits are softened but still retain their shape. Cool. Makes 3 cups.
Place milk, cream, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon in a saucepan and bring just to the boil, stirring occasionally. Strain into a jug, reserving vanilla bean. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into the milk mixture. Wipe pan clean and reserve. Makes 1 litre.
Place fregola, sultanas and half of the milk mixture in the reserved pan over medium heat and stir until boiling. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring continuously, for 4 minutes or until milk mixture is absorbed. Add a ladleful of remaining 500 ml milk mixture and continue stirring until absorbed. Continue adding milk mixture, ensuring each ladleful is absorbed before adding the next, until fregola is al dente; this will take about 12 minutes. Stir in pine nuts, lemon zest, nutmeg and a pinch of salt, then beat in butter.
Divide fregola pudding among 6 bowls and top with poached strawberries and rhubarb, to serve.
• Fregola is a variety of toasted semolina pasta that’s similar to moghrabieh (pearl couscous from Lebanon and Israel). It is available from delis and specialist food shops.
Photography by Chris Chen and Alan Benson. Wine suggestions by Tim Watkins.