The fregola in this fregola salad with citrus and red onion, should you be curious, is a toasted semolina pasta that’s very popular in Sardinia. You can substitute any small shape pasta, such as orzo, which it resembles, or even the tiny star-shaped pasta, pastina. But do make the effort to seek out fregola at a specialty food shop. Its nutty flavor makes this pasta salad really unusual and delicious.–Giada De Laurentiis

A white bowl filled with fregola salad with fresh citrus and red onion and mint leaves on a woven placemat.

Fregola Salad with Citrus and Red Onion

5 / 2 votes
This vibrant Italian salad made with fregola pasta is topped with fresh citrus, red onion, basil, mint, and an orange oil dressing.
David Leite
Servings4 to 6 servings
Calories750 kcal
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time40 minutes


For the orange oil

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Zest of 1 orange, preferably organic

For the fregola salad

  • 8 cups homemade chicken stock or low-sodium canned chicken broth
  • 1 pound fregola pasta, (or orzo)
  • 1 orange
  • 1 pink grapefruit
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil leaves
  • 1/2 tablespoon fennel seeds, lightly toasted
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Make the orange oil

  • Combine the olive oil and the orange zest in a small bowl and set aside.

Make the fregola salad

  • In a large saucepan over high heat bring the chicken broth to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but still firm to the bite, 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Drain the pasta and turn it onto a large baking sheet. Spread it out into a single layer and let cool for 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, using a small knife, cut all the peel and pith off the orange and grapefruit. Holding the fruit over a large bowl to catch any juice, cut between the membranes to release the segments into the bowl. Add the onion, mint, basil, fennel seeds, salt, pepper, and cooled fregola pasta to the segments and juice in the bowl.
  • Add the reserved orange oil to the pasta. Toss all the ingredients and serve.
Giada's Kitchen by Giada De Laurentiis

Adapted From

Giada’s Kitchen: New Italian Favorites

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Serving: 1 servingCalories: 750 kcalCarbohydrates: 102 gProtein: 19 gFat: 30 gSaturated Fat: 4 gMonounsaturated Fat: 20 gCholesterol: 9 mgSodium: 2336 mgFiber: 7 gSugar: 14 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2008 Giada de Laurentiis. Photo © 2008 Tina Rupp. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Fabulous. A real riff on couscous and pasta salads. Please, if I can urge you to find fregola, do. The texture and flavor are so unique that without it, I feel the salad would be compromised. Fregola is nutty, wheaty, and toasty with a chewy, al dente quality that’s so satisfying. The citrus, herbs, and spices all contribute to a truly unique and delicious salad. Buon apetito.

This is an absolutely fantastic salad. It’s simple to prepare, but bold in flavor (even subbing in the orzo). The citrus zest in the olive oil gives the whole dish a pleasing zing. The red onions, fresh herbs, and fennel seeds provide appealing textural and flavor contrasts. This is a standout dish that I will be making for a long time to come.

Simple and fresh, that’s how I describe this salad. Sad to say, I couldn’t find fregola pasta. I substituted orzo. How easy could this be? You cook the pasta, cut grapefruit and orange segments, assemble the other ingredients, and toss. The citrus and red onion flavors give such great freshness to the dish. I served this for lunch, and everyone requested seconds. I love it when I don’t have to store leftovers.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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