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Saffron Fregola with Seafood

A bit of culinary exotica, fregola is a type of pasta from the Italian island of Sardinia. The more common Israeli couscous may be substituted. Serve this hearty stew with a refreshing butter lettuce and pear salad and plenty of crusty bread for dipping.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp. saffron threads
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 lb. medium scallops, tough muscles removed
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup fregola (Sardinian couscous) or Israeli couscous
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 lb. clams, scrubbed
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions:

Crush the saffron in a small bowl and add the wine. Set aside.

In a large, heavy pot over high heat, warm 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. When the pan is very hot, add the shrimp and sear for 1 minute per side (do not cook all the way through). Transfer to a bowl. Add the scallops to the pot and sear for 1 minute per side, also without cooking all the way through. Transfer to the bowl with the shrimp.

Add the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil, the onion and garlic to the pot and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the saffron mixture and cook for 2 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the fregola and stir to combine, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the clams, discarding any that do not close to the touch. Cover the pot tightly and steam for 3 minutes. Remove the lid and quickly add the shrimp and scallops. Cover the pot tightly again and continue to cook just until the clams open and the shrimp and scallops are cooked through, about 3 minutes. Discard any clams that failed to open. Ladle the stew into warmed bowls, sprinkle with the parsley and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Soup of the Day, by Kate McMillan (Weldon Owen, 2011).