I miss my carefree summers in the Midwest. When I see corn on the cob, I’m immediately transported back to my childhood. I grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin. When we would venture outside our little suburb, we’d quickly be surrounded by cornfields and dairy farms as far as you could see. My dad would always say ‘knee high by the fourth of July’ referring to the corn’s growth that season. No, we didn’t live on a farm, but the crops’ growth was just a part of the summer time conversation. I can’t think of anything more quintessentially summer than grilled corn on the cob. I actually spotted this grilled corn fregola recipe on Mario Batali’s Facebook page and was intrigued by a type of pasta I hadn’t heard of. Plus, this is one of his staple summer recipes he features every year at his Otto restaurant, which I dined at with my friends on one of my trips to NYC. Fregola, fregula, what is it? With some quick searching, I found out fregola is a type of semolina pasta from Sardinia, and is similar to Israeli couscous. I knew I wouldn’t find this at my local grocery store, so I headed straight for Whole Foods, and sure enough, found it right away in their pasta section. I like my pasta al dente, and it works perfectly in this recipe to differentiate from the texture of the corn. This grilled corn fregola dish is light and summery, a perfect side dish to serve with your grilled meat at a backyard bbq. I love this recipe because it is so simple yet seems fancy. The taste is really fresh, lemony and sweet, not at all heavy like some pasta dishes. I think fregola is my new favorite type of pasta. You’ve got to try it.
From “Molto Gusto” (ecco, 2010)
1/2 pound (about 1 1/3 cups) fregola (you can sub in Israeli couscous if you can’t find fregola)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup roasted corn kernels (2-3 ears of corn, cleaned, husks removed)
Maldon or other flaky sea salt
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
2 tablespoons Lemon Vinaigrette (recipe below)
Coarsely ground black pepper
First, slather your cleaned ears of corn with olive oil and roast on the grill until lightly charred on all sides. Season with sea salt and let cool before cutting off of the cob.
Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot and add 2 tablespoons kosher salt. Add the fregola and cook until al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain well.
Add the fregula and scallions to the corn, then add the vinaigrette and toss well. Season generously with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve, or let stand at room temperature for 1 hour to bring out the flavors. The fregola can be refrigerated overnight; let come to room temperature before serving.
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Whisk together the lemon juice, zest and olive oil together in a small bowl. The vinaigrette can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.