A seàda (also written as sebàda, seatta or sevada) is a typical dessert from Sardinia that we saw on restaurant menus everywhere. It is a large ravioli that is filled with unaged local sheep’s milk cheese (pecorino sardo primosale), then deep-fried in olive oil and served with honey (or powdered sugar). When I looked for recipes, I noticed that many of them included lemon or orange zest in the filling. That makes a huge difference, as together with using a special honey it takes this from an average dessert (like the seadas we had in Sardinia) to something that is truly delicious. As usual with Italian cooking the quality of the ingredients is very important, and the choice of ingredients is local. And so there is no 00 flour and eggs in the dough, but semolina flour, lard, and water. The honey to be used for this should have some bitter notes, like chestnut honey or strawberry tree honey (corbezzolo in Italian, Latin name Arbutus unedo). If you can’t find pecorino sardo primosale, another sheep’s milk cheese that has been aged for only a short time will work as well. If you know how to make ravioli (click here for tips), then making seadas is pretty straightforward.
Makes 4 seadas
150 grams (1 cup) semolina flour (semola di grano duro rimacinata)
1 Tbsp lard or olive oil
80 ml (1/3 cup) of lukewarm water
grated zest of 1 small untreated orange
80 grams (3 oz) freshly grated young sheep’s milk cheese, preferably pecorino sardo primosale
olive oil for frying
chestnut honey or corbezzolo (strawberry tree) honey, for serving
To make the dough, combine 150 grams semolina flour with 1 tablespoon lard and 80 ml of lukewarm water in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Mix using the paddle attachment.
Add a bit more water (drop by drop) if needed to let the dough come together into a ball.
When the dough has come together, switch over to the dough hook and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow to rest in the refrigerator for at least half an hour.
To make the filling, grate the zest of an untreated orange.
Mix this with 80 grams of freshly grated sheep’s milk cheese.
Roll out the dough like you would for pasta. I rolled it out to setting “7” on a pasta machine for which “9” is the thinnest setting. Use a cookie cutter with a diameter of 10 cm (4 inches) to create 8 rounds of dough. If needed, you can roll the trimmings into a ball and roll them out again. Please the rounds on a work surface that is dusted with flour.
Place a layer of cheese on half of the rounds, making sure to keep the outer edge (about 6 mm or 1/4 inch) bare.
Put the other rounds on top, with the side that has been dusted with flour facing upwards. Seal tightly with your fingers, stroking along the top to seal with as little air inside as possible.
Now use a cookie cutter of 9 cm (3.5″) to remove the excess dough. Make sure the cookie cutter is wide enough so that you don’t cut into the cheese filling.
It is nice to use a ribbed cookie cutter for this, because it will look more pretty.
Pour a layer of about 1/2 cm (1/4 inch) of olive oil into a frying pan and heat the oil to about 180C/350F. Then turn the heat down to medium and place the seadas in the hot oil with the flat side down.
Immediately start pouring hot oil on top of the seadas using a ladle or large spoon. This is to cook the upper side without turning them around.
Make sure the heat is not too high, as otherwise the bottom side will burn before the upper side is cooked.
The seadas are finished if the upper side is slightly golden and is full of blisters.
Allow the seadas to drain on paper towels, then put one seada on each plate and pour chestnut honey or corbezzolo honey on top.
Serve at once.
This is great with a full bodied passito, a sweet wine from Italian made from dried grapes. Because of the honey it should really be full bodied. A perfect choice would be a nasco from Sardinia like Latinia by Santadi, but since I didn’t have a bottle of that I selected a Ramandolo instead. This is a DOCG for passito from Friuli made from Verduzzo Friulano. Ben Ryè, a moscato passito from Pantelleria by Donnafugata, would also be an outstanding choice.
Cactus with corn is one of the most exotic recipes I’ve ever prepared. I mean, have you ever eaten cactus paddles?