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A simple recipe for Fregola with Corn, Zucchini and Basil, sprinkled with pecorino. A simple and easy Italian-inspired meal that comes together in 30 minutes.

Fregola with Corn, Zucchini and Basil, sprinkled with pecorino. A fast and easy Italian-inspired meal that comes together in 30 minutes.

Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck. ~Dalai Lama

I’d love to introduce you to my new favorite pasta, Fregola Sarda! My friend Alan (from the Rocket Market in Spokane) first shared this with me and I’ve been a fan ever since.

What is Fregola?

Fregola or Fregola Sarda is a pearl-shaped pasta, similar to Israeli Couscous, that hails from Sardina, Italy. It is made by hand, by rubbing semolina flour and water together, into tiny pearls, which are then toasted- yielding a beautiful nutty, earthy flavor. The imperfections here make them beautiful.

In this recipe for Fregola pasta, summer corn and zucchini are paired with basil, pecorino and lemon zest- a cozy, end-of-summer meal.

Fregola Sarda in a bag

Notice the variations in color here- levels of toastiness, giving the Fregola nuance and complexity.

Fregola - toasted handmande pearls

What you’ll need to make Fregola Pasta

  • Fregola Sarda pasta- yes, you could sub Israeli Couscous, but I  would suggest toasting it first in an oven or dry skillet.
  • Shallot
  • Garlic Cloves
  • Fresh Corn- or sub frozen corn or roasted corn
  • Zucchini
  • Fresh Basil
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, chili flakes

Ingredients in Fregola Sarda with Corn, zucchini, basil and pecorino

How to make Fregola with Corn and Zucchini

Chopped corn, shallot, garlic and corn on a cutting board.

Step 1:

Set the salted pasta water to boil and prep your veggies. If feeling ambitious char the corn first over a gas burner on the stove ( or on the grill) or feel free to skip this step.

corn charring on a gas burner

Step 2:

Saute the shallot, zucchini and garlic in olive oil and season with salt, pepper and chili flakes.  Saute until the zucchini releases its liquid and becomes tender.

zucchini sautéing in a pan

Step 3:

Add the corn and continue sauteeing until the corn is cooked through, yet still snappy.

Adding the corn to the skillet

Step 4:

Drain the pasta, save a cup of pasta water and add the pasta to the skillet. Give a stir.

fregola being added to the pan with the zucchini and corn

Step 5:

Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.

adding olive oil

Step 6:

Stir in the pecorino and fresh basil leaves.

adding pecorino and basil leaves to the pasta

Step 7:

Add a little hot pasta water to create a little creaminess. You can make this quite loose if you like or keep it drier.

adding pasta water to the pan

Step 8:

Lastly, add the lemon zest of a whole lemon. Taste and adjust salt, and chili flakes to your liking.

add lemon zest

Garnish with more pecorino and fresh basil and you are good to go!  I like to prepare this like “couscous” consistency, a little drier, but if you crave creaminess, adding more pasta water and more pecorino will achieve this. Or, if still not satisfied, add a few tablespoons of ricotta for extra richness.

Fregola Sarda with Corn, Zucchini and Basil, sprinkled with pecorino. A fast and easy Italian-inspired meal that comes together in 30 minutes.

Tips on How to cook Fregola:

  • Generously season the pasta water with salt -1 tablespoon salt per 8 cups of water.
  • Cook the Fregola 8-10 minutes or until the Fregola is tender on the outside, but still, al dente, meaning it still has a little bite to it. (If you overcook it, it will turn to mush, so better to undercook, and then you can continue cooking it in the pan with the zucchini if need be.)
  • Remember to save a cup of hot pasta water.

Fregola recipe with Corn, Zucchini and Basil, sprinkled with pecorino. A fast and easy Italian-inspired meal that comes together in 30 minutes.

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Fregola with Corn, Zucchini and Basil, sprinkled with pecorino. A fast and easy Italian-inspired meal that comes together in 30 minutes.

Fregola with Corn, Zucchini & Basil

  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine | Feasting at Home
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 3-4 1x
  • Category: pasta, vegetarian
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian


Fregola Sarda Pasta with Corn, Zucchini and Basil, sprinkled with pecorino. A fast and easy Italian-inspired meal that comes together in 30 minutes.


Units Scale
  • 8 ounces Fregola pasta ( 1 1/2 cups dry)
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 2 medium zucchini ( 34 cups diced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 garlic cloves, rough chopped
  • pinch chili flakes (or Aleppo chili flakes)
  • 1 ear corn (2 cups, or use frozen, or frozen roasted ) see notes
  • 1/3 cup pecorino cheese
  • 1520 basil leaves
  • zest of one lemon
  • Optional: 1/4 cup ricotta for extra creaminess


Cook fregola pasta in 8 cups water with 1 tablespoon salt according to directions on the package, cook until al dente and save a cup of hot pasta water.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and zucchini and season with salt, and saute until the zucchini is translucent about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, pepper and chili flakes and cook a few more minutes, until the garlic is fragrant. Add the corn, and continue sauteeing, until the corn is tender, but still a little snappy, about 5-6 minutes.

Add the cooked fregola pasta to the zucchini-corn mixture, drizzle with another tablespoon of olive oil, stir in the pecorino, basil and lemon zest. Add 1/4-1/2  cup pasta water to loosen, and more if you prefer it more “saucy”.

Taste, season with more salt, or chili flakes if you like. If it tastes bland, it needs salt.

Garnish with fresh basil and a sprinkling of pecorino.

For extra richness, stir in a little ricotta. See notes.


The pecorino makes this dish.

Feel free to char the corn (on a gas stove or grill) before cutting the kernels off.

This is a drier-style pasta dish just lightly coated in olive oil (kind of like couscous). For extra creaminess or  a more saucy consistency, add more pasta water and stir in the ricotta.


  • Serving Size: 1 ¼ cup
  • Calories: 349
  • Sugar: 6.6 g
  • Sodium: 385 mg
  • Fat: 10.2 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 54.7 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Protein: 11.9 g
  • Cholesterol: 5.5 mg

Keywords: Fregola, Fregola Sarda, Fregola recipe, Fregola recipes, Fregola with corn, zucchini and basil,

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Recipe rating


  1. This was sooooo easy to make. I have been enjoying it for three days now! Honestly, you are amazing! I love your recipes! Appreciate how talented you are! Thank you!

  2. It’s a wonderful dish, I sometimes add some cremini mushrooms that I sauté separately and add to the veggies – it brings additional umami! Without the pecorino its great for our vegan friends.

  3. Could I make this ahead & serve it cold, or reheat?
    I’m cooking for vegetarians and in a time crunch.

    1. So I haven’t had this cold. Room temp might be OK? you could precook but keep things separate until ready to serve then heat it up, and add the cheese?

  4. Absolutely perfect timing with our Zucchini coming in. Great recipe. Ordered some Fergola online. Set the pasta for 7 minutes then kept tasting it until tender.
    Had some wonderful Merry Edwards Sauv blanc with it.

  5. SO tasty! Made this last week with toasted Israeli cous cous and it was a perfect summer evening dish. Will definitely make again.

  6. This was absolutely delicious, a meatless main meal, light and fully satisfying. What worked for me was the texture made up of small pieces and parts, also the light summer flavors that married seamlessly. I may add fresh peas next time, or may not mess with a good thing. This recipe is a keeper! Thank you once again Sylvia.

  7. This was delicious! We were blown away by how quickly it came together and how wonderful the flavor combos were! Sadly, we’re dairy free so we subbed the pecorino for a mix of nutritional yeast and vegan parmesan. While I’m sure the pecorino would have taken it to another level, it was still fabulous with this combo. We just made it three days ago and my boyfriend is already asking for it again! Definitely make this!

  8. It was delicious! I couldn’t find any fergola or pearl couscous so I used gnocchi that I pan fried after cooking and it worked out great.

  9. This was quick, easy and delicious. My carnivore Sweetie even gave it a ****.8 rating out of 5 – high praise.
    Your recipes never disappoint, Sylvia. Thank you.

    1. Thanks Martie! Appreciate this! Ok, I have to ask… what could be improved here in your opinion, in order to get it up to a 5? 😂

      1. As I said, my Sweetie is a carnivore so ****.8 is HIGH praise. I was lighter on the basil than I would have liked given, being the end of season, my plant was pretty depleted.

  10. I tried this dish today for breakfast and we quite enjoyed it. I had to substitute toasted Israeli couscous because I didn’t have any fregola available. I used yellow summer squash and fresh corn, Alepo chili pepper and lovely fresh basil from my balcony garden. Its a quick easy dish to make.

  11. Hi, Sylvia,

    I noticed in the notes it says the pecorino makes this dish. As a vegan, can I sub nutritional yeast? Is there a better substitute? Thank you!

    1. Hi Lisa – I bet the Vegan Cheesy Sprinkle would work here! Search for it in the search bar!

      1. Made this for dinner this evening with the vegan cheesy sprinkle. So glad I did. Thank you for the suggestion, Sylvia. This is delicious.

Hi, I'm Sylvia!

Chef and author of the whole-foods recipe blog, Feasting at Home, Sylvia Fountaine is a former restaurant owner and caterer turned full-time food blogger. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest and shares seasonal, healthy recipes along with tips and tricks from her home kitchen.

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