I’ve been to most of the regions of Italy, but not yet to the island of Sardinia (Sardegna in Italian). Owen, one of the long time readers of this blog, requested a recipe for malloreddus, the typical pasta shape of Sardinia. At first I thought I had never heard of them, but then I realized that they are also known as “gnocchetti sardi”, and that DeCecco produces a dry version of them. I did some research and talked online to someone from Sardinia and found out that malloreddus are made from semolina flour and water, and that on Sundays saffron is added to the water (as saffron is too expensive to use on a daily basis).
I also found out that malloreddus are most famously served alla campidanese, which means with a tomato sauce with Sardinian pork sausage and saffron. Owen suggested a sauce of fennel and sausage, and since this was his idea in the first place I decided to stick with that for my first experiment. I did simplify Owen’s recipe for the sauce slightly, more in line with how I think an Italian would prepare it. The sauce was amazingly flavorful and it would also be great on another type of short pasta or on store-bought gnocchetti sardi by DeCecco. So even if you are not going to make your own malloreddus, I urge you to try the sauce!
The malloreddus came out well for a first attempt. I do not own the ‘instrument’ that Sardinians use to make them, so I had to make do with a fork instead. Next time I will try to make them a bit smaller and thinner. I want them to be only 2 cm (.8″) when they are cooked. The saffron gives them an amazing yellow color, but it is hard to taste. The saffron is probably easier to detect when it is added to the sauce instead. Of course the appropriate cheese for this pasta is pecorino sardo, sheep’s cheese from Sardinia.
150 grams (about 1 cup) semola di grano duro rimacinato (semolina flour)
80 ml (1/3 cup) water, plus a bit more
pinch of powdered saffron (optional)
pinch of salt
For the sauce
2 Italian pork sausages, regular or with fennel seeds, about 140 grams (5 oz)
1 fennel bulb
1 tsp fennel seeds
80 ml (1/3 cup) dry white wine
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated cheese, preferably pecorino sardo
I prefer to make the dough in the stand mixer. You can of course also knead it by hand.
And then ‘roll’ it down so that you end up with a malloreddus that is bent with the ribs on the outside. You could also watch this video.
Two years ago I prepared leg of rabbit, poached sous-vide in a fresh tomato sauce. Rabbit is often dry or tough, but with sous-vide it will be tender and juicy. Back then I didn’t have a chamber vacuum sealer nor ziploc sous-vide pouches, so I had to freeze the tomato sauce to be able to vacuum seal it.