Malloreddus alla Campidanese (Sardinian Pasta with Tomato and Sausage)

Each region in Italy has its own pasta shapes and pasta recipes. For the southern part of the island of Sardinia the shape is called malloreddus or gnocchetti sardi, and the traditional dish using them is called Malloreddus alla Campidanese. A while ago I showed you how to make fresh malloreddus from scratch, with an amazingly delicious sauce of fennel and sausage. This time I used store-bought dry malloreddus and prepared them traditionally alla Campidanese. This means with (Sardinian) pork sausage, tomatoes, onions, and saffron. It goes without saying that the cheese to be sprinkled over this should be pecorino sardo (sheep’s cheese from Sardinia), which happens to be one of my favorite cheeses.

DeCecco makes gnocchetti sardi, which makes them relatively easy to find outside of Sardinia. Artisanal or homemade malloreddus are of course better, but I liked this dish just fine with DeCecco. Using store-bought pasta makes this a dish that is easy to prepare after work on a weeknight, as it takes only half an hour from start to finish. This dish is best with fresh ripe Sardinian tomatoes, but canned tomatoes will do in a pinch. The amount of sauce is small, just enough to coat the pasta, which is as it should be. This does mean that this is a true primo piatto that should be followed by a secondo piatto to make it a full meal, as the amount of protein and especially vegetables would otherwise not be sufficient.


For 2 servings

150 grams (.33 lb) gnocchetti sardi/malloreddus pasta

1 Italian (preferably Sardinian) fresh pork sausage (salsiccia), about 80 grams (3 oz), minced

125 ml (1/2 cup) peeled tomatoes, pureed in the food processor

1 small onion, thinly sliced

pinch of saffron threads

2 Tbsp olive oil


freshly grated pecorino sardo cheese


Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the onion and the sausage meat.

Sauté over medium heat until sausage and onion are golden, about 10 minutes. (I was living on the edge here, as the onions were almost too brown.)

Add the tomatoes, stir, bring to a boil, lower the heat.

Simmer the sauce, stirring now and then, until it has a nice thick consistency.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and add salt and malloreddus. Cook the malloreddus al dente according to package instructions.

Take about 60 ml (1/4 cup) of the pasta cooking water a few minutes before the pasta is cooked, and add the saffron. Stir and allow to steep for a minute or so.

Add this saffron-infused water to the tomato sauce right before the pasta is ready.

Drain the pasta and add it to the sauce.

Add freshly grated pecorino sardo to taste.

Stir to mix. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt if needed.

Serve on warm plates, sprinkled with some more freshly grated pecorino sardo.

Wine pairing

It goes without saying that this pairs best with a nice red from Sardinia.


Two years ago I wrote about my experiment with the Girardet method for broiling fish in a bath of white wine. This reminds me that I should try this again when I find a suitably thick piece of fish with skin.

18 thoughts on “Malloreddus alla Campidanese (Sardinian Pasta with Tomato and Sausage)

  1. The fennel, tomatoes and saffron are all calling my name. The sheep’s milk pecorino sardo is something I must try. This dish looks very special. It’s wonderful that each region of Italy has their own, unique dish. 🙂 Lovely photos, too, Stefan.


  2. Love the sauce! We have an enormous Italian population in Melbourne. I’m lucky we have nearby a wholesaler who only imports from Italy, pasta mainly, but also beautiful Pecorino Sardu, different ages, different makers. They also sell wonderful pork sausages with fennel seed. Locally made, they’re the best I have ever tasted, even in Italy!


  3. This is quite appealing and methinks I could easily make it a full meal 🙂 ! Reading ‘ladyredspecs’ comments I smile in slight frustration, knowing that some 700 kms north and rurally there is no chance whatsoever for me to find the particular pecorino mentioned . . . pork sausages called ‘Italian’ I can get, but . . . shall do my best . . .


  4. Sausage in tomato sauce is a favorite. Love the flavor it lends to the sauce. You’re so right about the regions and pasta shapes. Taken in toto, they’re quite an assortment.


    1. And a confusing assortment at that, as many very similar (or in my mind, equal) pasta shapes have different names in different places.
      The Bartolini sausage recipe is still on my to cook list.


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