I have previously introduced you to the Sardinian pasta Malloreddus, also known as gnocchetti sardi: this small pasta type is the regional pasta that used to be made by patient nonnas, who would push and roll a small ball of pasta dough against a wicker basket with their thumbs. Well known national brands sell a version, but the best will always be the Sardinian brand La Casa del Grano, which are often bi-coloured as some malloreddus are made with the typical flavour of saffron. Out of all Sardinian dishes, Malloreddus alla Campidanese is the only recipe that you will most certainly find at every single occasion: be it a wedding or a Christmas dinner, a family reunion or Easter Sunday. And obviously it will be on the menu at every traditional restaurant on the island. Fresh Sardinian sausage is hard to find in London, but there are different options that you can try; Lina Stores in Soho often sell sausages made with wild fennel (finocchietto selvatico) – those, even if they haven’t got the peppery taste of Sardegna, will do nicely for your Campidanese sauce. Alternatively, in many European food stockists in the city, you can find a variety of Tuscan sausages from Siena that are to die for. These are a lot meatier than the Sardinian ones and I could have added fennel seeds to give to dish some extra flavour – unfortunately I had run out but I strongly recommend this trick if you don’t find the right sausages for your sauce!
500g Casa del Grano Malloreddus pasta
600ml fresh tomatoes passata
half an onion
1 clove of garlic
2 stalks of celery
300g fresh sausages, cut in round slices
2 bay leaves
less than ¼ tsp saffron
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Grated pecorino cheese (preferably Sardinian)
Step 1 – Make the passata – or go to the shop and get this.
Step 2 – Chop the carrot, celery, onion and garlic and fry them with some extra virgin olive oil in a sauce pan on a gentle heat. I made quite a rich version here, but you can just use onion and garlic for this sauce, without compromising the flavour at all.
Step 3 – Once your tritato is golden, add the sausages and let them turn nice and brown and soak up the juices of your flavours. The idea is that the round slices will break a little, distributing the meat all over the sauce. With the meaty Tuscan sausages, this didn’t quite happen, but it’s still delicious.
Step 4 – When your sausages are nice and coloured, it’s time to add in your passata. Keep the heat up and bring the sauce to the boil.
Step 5 – Add salt and pepper, the saffron, bay leaves and turn the flame down. Let the sauce reduce at low heat for about 40 minutes. Taste it for salt and adjust before turning off the heat- your Campidanese sauce is ready! For best results, I would recommend preparing your sauce the day before you plan to serve it. The sausages will have soaked up the flavours and it will be just perfect!
Step 6 – Now prepare your pasta. In a big sauce pan, boil an abundant quantity of salted water. Add your Malloreddus and let them bubble till cooked to your preferred level of ‘al dente’.
Step 7 – Drain the pasta completely and put it back into the sauce pan (that now won’t have any water left). Then add the sauce and mix in order to make the pasta soak up all the flavours of your sauce. Serve up and sprinkle with grated pecorino cheese. Of course, the best cheese for the job would be Sardinian pecorino – but if this is not an option for you, you can use the classic Grana or Parmesan; other types of sheep cheese such as a mature Manchego or Ricotta Salata would also suit perfectly.
Buon appetito then, and let me know if you try this recipe!Follow @blenderbasil