Fregola with Charred Onions and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

DSC00464I love when fresh cherry tomatoes are so plentiful in the late-summer/early-fall. I buy a few pints each week and use them in everything. This recipe from Food & Wine is one of the best I’ve tried recently. Fregola is a type of pasta from Sardinia that looks similar to couscous. It’s made of semolina dough that has been rolled into tiny ball and toasted in the oven. I found fregola at Fraboni’s. It was expensive for pasta ($7), but worthy of a try. I loved the flavors and textures of this dish—oven roasted tomatoes accented by fresh rosemary served over a bed of al dente fregola garnished with torn basil leaves. I enjoyed the dish as an entree, but it would also make a great summer salad. And it would be even more beautiful if you used a variety of cherry tomatoes—orange, yellow and red.

Fregola with Charred Onions and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes (barely adapted from Food & Wine)

Tomatoes
1 pint cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 rosemary sprigs
2 thyme sprigs
Salt
Freshly ground pepper

Onions
2 medium red onions, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

Fregola
3 cups fregola
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 cup torn basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the tomatoes with the olive oil. Add the rosemary and thyme sprigs and season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are ready to burst. Strip the leaves from the herb stems and discard the stems. Increase the oven temperature to 350°.

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Brush the onions with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over medium-high heat until nicely charred, about 3 minutes per side.

Transfer the onions to a baking dish. Add the vinegar and the 1/4 cup of olive oil and bake for 20 minutes, until tender. Let the onions cool in the liquid, then coarsely chop. Reserve the liquid.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fregola and cook, stirring occasionally, until the fregola is al dente, about 15 minutes. Drain and transfer to a large bowl.

While the fregola is still warm, add the onions and their cooking liquid, along with the tomatoes and crispy herbs. Stir in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with basil and serve.DSC00458

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