My Favorite Recipe

Lawman Johnson’s Favorite Recipe: Fregula with Clams and Saffron Broth

The Cook’s Country test cook’s favorite recipes blazed new trails at ATK.

Published Nov. 30, 2021.

My Favorite Recipe is a new column where we ask America's Test Kitchen cooks, cast members, and luminaries about the recipes they can't stop cooking.


Lawman Johnson, senior editor of Cook’s Country and cast member on Cook’s Country TV, enjoys the research involved in recipe development and the seemingly tedious tasks that ultimately make food taste better. When I asked him about his favorite recipe (no easy feat given the extensive list he's worked on), he focused on some he developed for our Italian-cooking tome called Tasting Italy and also talked about why having a community of cooks makes food more fun.

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Hi Lawman, what’s your favorite ATK recipe?

Lawman Johnson
: A few come to mind. I like the Fried Stuffed Olives and the Dolmathes (Stuffed Grape Leaves). Also the Fregula with Clams and Saffron Broth. The first two I like because they were new [to ATK] at the time, and I was the first test cook to do them. I enjoyed how tedious they were. Maybe it’s part of my nature. Holding little things and stuffing them and making them look nice. Plus, visitors to the test kitchen were excited to watch, and we talked while they would eat one. It was cool. 

The Delights of Italy

Tasting Italy

Featuring foolproof, kitchen-tested recipes; 300 gorgeous color photographs; and 30 maps, Tasting Italy takes you on a captivating journey through the rich history of Italian cuisine, region by region.  
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Let’s talk more about fregula. What is it? What was the most difficult aspect of the recipe development?

The fregula with clams is something that I would cook for myself or order if I went out to eat. I love pasta. I love seafood. Fregula is like couscous, but it has saffron and it's toasted slightly before drying, giving it more of a nutty flavor. The cooking method for the fregula was straightforward. Then it was just a matter of adding the Italian flavor profile. The most difficult part was figuring out what order to do everything in and how to make sure it was foolproof. 

Fregula with Clams and Saffron Broth

Get a taste of Italy from home with this magical union of tender, briny seafood and buttery al dente pasta.  
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Sounds delicious. What’s the best part of this recipe? 

Fregula and clams is the seemingly magical union of tender, briny seafood and buttery al dente pasta that's not only delicious but also simple to prepare.

There was a lot of problem-solving involved. I got to research different areas of Italy that I wasn't familiar with. We're not always able to make a dish like they're making it in Italy because people [outside of that country] may not have access to certain tools and ingredients. The same thing applies to the stuffed grape leaves from The Complete Mediterranean cookbook. You want it to be true to the source but also approachable for the average home cook.

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