New Zealand Cockles with La Fregula Sarda
Don't let this recipe intimidate you!! it is not difficult and well worth the effort!! These sweet little bites of pure joy will delight you!! Cockles are small little sweet marine bivalves similar to clams and can only be found in salt water beaches. I love their pink and green shade shells that tend to be heart shaped when viewed from the ends. They are perfect in this light recipe lending their tender sweet texture and flavor to the chew of the Fregula pasta. I found Fregula at a favorite Italian market and was unfamiliar with it. Not anymore! Fregula is a type of pasta from Sardinia. The pasta is fantastic in this dish, salads or soups.
This particular recipe is impressive and simple for a dinner party on a warm summer evening and is lovely paired with a Viognier or Pinot Gris, a side salad and crusty french bread. Close your eyes and you'll think your in Southern Italy.
- ¼ tsp Salt/ plus
- 1 stalk of Rhubarb very finely chopped
- 1 tbsp. lemon zest
- 8 oz. Medium Fregola
- ¼ cup olive oil/plus
- 4 Garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 2 lbs Cockles scrubbed clean (if you cant find you can also use Manilla clams, or Little necks)
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter,cut into pieces
- 1 cup Basil leaves
- 3 tbsp. finely chopped chives
- 3 tbsp. finely chopped parsley
- Crushed Red Pepper Flakes for serving
To mellow out the Bitterness of the Rhubarb, soak chopped Rhubarb in 1 cup of warm water and ¼ tsp. salt for 5-10 minutes, then drain and pat dry. Place in a small bowl and toss with lemon zest and set aside.
Cook the Fregola in a large pot of salted boiling water until very Al Dente, 6-8 minutes and drain, making sure you reserve 1 cup of the starchy pasta water.
Heat ¼ cup EVOO in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic for about 1 minute. Add wine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer liquid and reduce by half, about 3 minutes. Add Cockles and cover skillet to cook and steam until they open, about 4 minutes. Transfer Cockles to a bowl, discarding any that don’t open.
Add Fregola, ½ cup of reserved pasta water, and butter to skillet. Cook, tossing the pasta until fully tender and sauce starts to thicken, about 3 minutes. Tear the basil and mix in with pasta along with the chives and parsley, toss quickly then all the cockles and warm through.
Divide the Fregola and cockles among bowls. Drizzle with EVOO and top with the lemony Rhubarb mixture and a dash of red pepper flakes and Enjoy!