Fregola is a type of pasta that hails from Sardinia, an island located off the west coast of Italy. Its chewy texture and appearance are reminiscent of Israeli couscous, so if you can't find fregola, it will make a decent substitute in this dish; just adjust the cooking time appropriately to make sure it retains its pleasant chewiness.
- 1 Pound fresh whole cuttlefish, cleaned
- 1/4 Cup chopped fennel or dill fronds
- 1/2 Cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 Teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 quarts meat or shellfish broth, plus more to taste
- 1 Teaspoon saffron threads
- 1/4 Cup minced shallot
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Pound fregola
- 5 -6 ripe plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced
- 1/4 Cup minced flat-leaf parsley
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Cut the cuttlefish in strips. In a bowl, toss the cuttlefish together with the fennel or dill fronds, ¼ cup of the olive oil, and salt. Let the cuttlefish marinate at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.
Bring the broth to a simmer over medium heat in a saucepan. Add the saffron and let it steep until the broth is a rich, golden yellow color. Keep the broth hot.
Heat the remaining oil in a large pot over low heat. Add the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the shallot is tender and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the fregola and the tomatoes and stir to coat evenly with the oil.
Add enough of the broth to cover the fregola by ½ inch, and cook, stirring occasionally. As the fregola absorb the broth, keep adding more, and cook until the fregola are tender but still have a bit of bite, about 12 minutes. (They should be quite moist, with a loose but not soupy consistency.)
Add the cuttlefish and the parsley and continue to cook just until the cuttlefish is cooked, for 2 more minutes. Season with pepper, to taste. Serve at once on heated plates.