Have you ever wondered what keeps us young? I am approaching a milestone birthday and when I hear the number I just shake my head and say “That cannot be me!”
I still feel the same as I did before my children were born. I am wiser and a little less agile, but I am still that person. I still love music, nature, theater, photography, travel, cooking, family and laughter, as I always have. I can still skate, cycle, walk for miles and keep up with the rest of the family.
We all know that eating well and living an active lifestyle is important. I have also read that a glass of red wine now and again is good for you. So is dark chocolate. All of these facts were proven through research. Researchers spend countless hours studying the affects of lifestyle and diet so we can understand what we need to do to live long and healthy lives.
It really makes me wonder if we know it all when I hear about places like the island of Sardinia. On this wonderful rustic island there are more than 10 times as many people living to over 100 years old, as there are in the U.S. and Canada.
Sardinia is a region of Italy located in the Mediterranean off the west coast of Italy’s mainland. In spite of its prime location, Sardinia remains a culturally isolated place where the locals live a rural lifestyle of hunting, fishing and farming.
Many researchers have visited Sardinia hoping to unlock the secrets of their longevity, while falling in love with the island, the food and the people. The locals enjoy a Mediterranean diet, paired with wine, friends and family. What more could you want?
Fregola (also known as Fregula) is ancient pasta from the island of Sardinia. It resembles Israeli Couscous but has a slightly chewy, almost nutty taste. I recommend using it in soups and salads and mixing it with vegetables for a tasty pasta dinner. It can be purchased in many specialty stores in North America such as Whole Foods and McEwan’s.
This recipe was adapted from the one on the Bon Appetit website. The flavours are well balanced and the ricotta and mint add a freshness to the pasta. I would definitely make this again.
Fregola With Peas, Ricotta, Pancetta and Mint
1 1/4 cups fregola
2 tbsp. olive oil
3 ounces pancetta cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups low sodium chicken stock
Salt and Pepper
1 cup frozen peas or freshly shelled peas
3 sprigs fresh mint
4 oz. ricotta cheese
Cook fregola in a large pot of boiling salted water 6-8 minutes. The pasta should be a little firm. Drain pasta, do not rinse.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add wine, bring to a simmer and cook until the liquid has reduced, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth and simmer. Add the fregola and cook, stirring often, until pasta is al dente and broth has thickened, about 5 minutes.
Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add the peas and cook, stirring often until peas are warmed through, about 2 minutes.
Serve topped with ricotta and fresh mint and drizzle with oil.
Recipe adapted from bonappetit.com