The Sardinian pasta Malloreddus, also known as gnocchetti sardi 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 pasta recipe that you will most certainly be served at every single occasion in Sardinia: 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 sausages are hard to find in Singapore, but at Huber’s Butchery they have an Italian style sausage that is made with fennel. That’s the flavour you need that’s typical of Italian sausages. And if all you find is sausages that are not made with fennel, you can add a teaspoon of fennel seeds to this recipe.
This recipe serves 5 portions.
500g Malloreddus Pasta or Gnocchetti
600ml fresh tomato passata
half an onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 stalks of celery, finely chopped
300g fresh sausages
1 glass of white wine
2 bay leaves
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Grated pecorino cheese (but if you don’t have it, parmigiano or grana will also do the trick)
Step 2 – Free the sausages from their skin. Cut them into small chunks or squash them gently wit a fork. In a sauce pan, fry your sausages in a tablespoon olive oil, until they are brown and start losing the fats and juices. At this point they should start looking more like minced meat.
Step 3 – Add the carrot, celery, onion and garlic to the pan and let them fry gently in the sausage juices. Once they are golden, add the glass of white wine and then let it cook so the alcohol evaporates and the ingredients absorb the lovely aromas of the wine.
Step 4 – After the wine has reduced, 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 45 minutes to 1 hour. Taste it for salt and adjust before turning off the heat. And here you have your Campidanese sauce! 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 would also suit perfectly.
Buon appetito then, and let me know if you try this recipe!