minestra e cocciula
1 kg small Vongole (cleaned as described in starters – clams)
250g Fregula (see ingredients)
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
6 sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
A bunch of parsley, finely chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
Before you begin you must clean the clams of any sand or grit. The only way to do this is to make the clams feel at home and therefore open up and release any sand that they may have inside their shells. Take a large pan fill it with slightly salty water and put it in the fridge (You are trying to recreate the environment of the sea!) and leave the clams to soak. The longer you can leave the clams the better (2 – 3 hours is ideal) as you will be sure to have removed as much sand as possible.
Once cleaned remove the clams form the water and place in a large pan with a little water and cook over a low heat until they open. Remove three quarters of the vongole from their shells leaving the rest intact to garnish the soup.
Pass the liquid that is left in the pan through a sieve and set to one side.
In another pan heat 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil and over a medium heat fry the onions add the crushed garlic and then the parsley followed by the chopped sun dried tomatoes. Turn down the heat, add the vongole and fold gently together in the pan for about five minutes. Now add the liquid that the vongole cooked in season with salt and add a little more hot water (the amount of water you add is up to you and relates to the thickness of the soup, do bare in mind that the pasta will suck up a fair bit of liquid) When the soup starts to boil add the Fregula and cook until al dente.
Serve with fresh chopped parsley and a dribble of extra virgin olive oil.