Dorgali is a town in the mountains on the east coast of Sardinia. We were staying at the seaside resort of Cala Gonone, but drove up to Restaurant Ispinigoli in the mountains to try the local cuisine. (If you ever go to that region, make sure to eat at the restaurant. The food is simple but delicious, like Italian food should be. And the view on the sea down below is marvelous.) As soon as you are away from the coast, the Sardinian cuisine is mostly meat-oriented rather than seafood. We tried the typical ravioli of Dorgali, which are stuffed with local pecorino (sheep’s milk cheese) and fresh mint, and served with a sausage and tomato ragù. So this is yet another installment in the series of dishes inspired by our trip to Sardinia. These ravioli are outstanding: so simple and yet so tasty and elegant.
The best cheese to use for this is of course pecorino sardo, aged for only a short time. I used a Dutch sheep’s milk cheese that worked particularly well. In Sardinia pasta dough is made with semolina flour, water, and olive oil. No eggs like in Emilia-Romagna. A bit of 00 flour is used to make the dough more easy to handle, but you could also make it from semolina flour only.
For 24 ravioli (serves 4 as a primo piatto)
240 grams freshly grated young pecorino cheese, plus a bit more for garnish
2 Tbsp minced fresh mint, plus a bit more for garnish
For the pasta dough
150 grams (1 cup) semola di grano duro rimacinata (semolina flour)
75 grams (1/2 cup) Italian 00 flour (farina di grano tenero tipo “00”)
about 80 ml (1/3 cup) lukewarm water
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
For the ragù
150 grams (.33 lb) neutral Italian sausage (salsiccia), taken out of its casings and chopped
400 grams (14 oz) peeled tomatoes (fresh or from a can), pureed in the food processor
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
To make the pasta dough, combine 150 grams of semola, 75 grams of 00, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and 80 ml of lukewarm water in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Mix with the paddle attachment, adding water drop by drop if needed to let the dough come together. Be patient and do not add more water than necessary. If the dough becomes too sticky anyway, add a bit more flour.
When the dough has come together…
…move over to the dough hook.
Knead the dough until the dough is smooth and elastic, 5 to 10 minutes.
Wrap the dough in cling film and allow to rest in the refrigerator for at least half an hour.
To make the filling, mix 240 grams of freshly grated cheese with 2 tablespoons of minced mint. Then divide the mixture into 24 balls of equal size.
When the pasta dough has rested, take a piece about the size of a large egg and roll it out into a sheet as thinly as possible. Although the ravioli were square at Ispinigoli, I thought it would be nice to make round ones.
Use a cookie cutter with a diameter of 80 mm (3.25″) to cut circles out of the dough. (Gather the scraps and roll them up to re-use.)
Flatten a ball of filling and put it on the center of a circle of pasta. Cover it with another circle, ‘stroking’ along the filling to remove any trapped air and pressing down with your fingers to seal them well. Then use a slightly smaller cookie cutter of 75 mm (3″) to trim the edges. (Gather up the scraps and roll them up to re-use.)
Keep rolling out more pasta (using the gathered scraps as needed) and filling them until you have used up all of the filling. Read this post for more tips on making ravioli.
Arrange the ravioli on a sheet tray that was sprinkled with flour. Make sure to turn the ravioli after half an hour or so, so they can dry on both sides. If you forget to do that, they may get stuck.
Make the ragù while the ravioli are drying. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan. Add a chopped onion and season lightly with salt. Stir until the onion is translucent, about a minute.
When the onion is translucent, add the chopped sausage meat.
Stir over medium-high heat…
…until the sausage is nicely browned (5 to 10 minutes).
Now add the tomatoes.
Stir and bring to a boil.
Simmer over low heat until the ragù has thickened, about 30 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and the ravioli. Cook them for 1 to 2 minutes, depending on how long you allowed them to dry. (If they still feel quite soft, 1 minute will probably suffice. It is nice to keep the pasta al dente.)
Lift the ravioli out of the pot with a skimmer as soon as they are cooked, and place them in the pan with the ragù.
When you’ve added all of the ravioli, very gently toss them to cover with the ragù.
Serve at once on preheated plates, garnished with freshly grated pecorino and mint.
This works very well with either a Vermentino (dry white from Sardinia) or medium-bodied Cannonau di Sardegna (red from Sardinia). A rosé from Cannonau would work too.
This skate is cooked Italian style with a crust of breadcrumbs, capers, olives, lemon zest, thyme and garlic, and served with roasted cauliflower and mashed potatoes.