Couscous and fregola are commonly referred to as pastas, but as I understood them to be made before writing this post, they're not. I'll explain:
- Pasta in the general sense consists of a ground flour and some liquid
- Couscous is made from husked and crushed, but unground, semolina of hard wheat using water to bind them (see Clifford Wright, a Mediterranean Feast)
If you agree with the above two statements, couscous is not a pasta.
Giuliani Bugialli's cookbooks (Foods of Sicily & Sardinia; Bugialli on Pasta) describe the technique for making fregola by hand. Couscous is spread on a platter and drizzled with a mixture of water, egg, salt, and saffron. The grains are rubbed until they absorb some amount of liquid, and then baked. They are cooled, and the process repeats a few times as the grains form little balls. My hat goes off to anyone who has successfully done this...
Given that couscous isn't a pasta, neither is fregola, which is made up of couscous.
The high price of fregola has always made me think it was because it was made in an industrialized variant of this traditional technique. Some google searches I just did are making me rethink that. There are recipes online that make fregola out of a regular pasta dough. Here's one that toasts pellets of extruded pasta dough http://www.starchefs.com/events/studi... . If that's what's being served and sold in the US as fregola, it's most definitely a pasta.
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