Halloween Recipe: Sardinian Dead Bones

In Italy, Halloween is often seen as the American festival that took over our culture, but only a few know that actually our pagan traditions are very similar to this spooky holiday. This Halloween recipe, in dialect called Ossus de Mottu, is representative of what Sardinians called Is Animeddas, a tradition that occurred during the night between All Saint’s and the Day of the Dead. During this night, in the villages of the island, people would keep the house door open, in order to let the souls of the Purgatory come in and help themselves to food and beverages. Also, furniture and drawers would be left open, for the souls to take anything they might need. Spooky uh? Continue reading “Halloween Recipe: Sardinian Dead Bones”

Cauliflower with olives – A simple recipe

While it’s in season and at its best, I’m proposing a recipe with cauliflower. In Sardinia this dish is called cavolo soffocato, literally meaning suffocated cauliflower, and it’s called like that because you let it steam in the pot by closing the lid. Apart from the quality of the ingredients, you only need a bit of patience for the success of this very simple and satisfying vegetarian recipe. Have it as it is with some home made bread or fluffy basmati rice, or make it a side dish for a meaty dinner. Continue reading “Cauliflower with olives – A simple recipe”

Sardinian Zeppole_recipe

Pancake Day Recipe: Zeppole Sarde (Zippuas)

Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake Day, is traditionally the day before the beginning of Lent. During this Catholic holiday lasting forty days, followers of Lent should avoid eating meat and other fatty or sweet foods, which is why Shrove Tuesday is the day they feast and treat themselves to a special meal. You might have guessed that we do not eat pancakes on this special occasion in Italy, as each region makes their own traditional cakes. In Sardinia we have zeppole, in dialect Zippuas, very tasty fritters that look like doughnuts and taste of saffron and orange. Continue reading “Pancake Day Recipe: Zeppole Sarde (Zippuas)”

Sardinian pasta (Malloreddus) with asparagus and sea urchins

During the Easter break, I went to visit my father who at the moment works in Belgium. Even though he works around the world, he always brings with him a stock of Italian ingredients so he can cook his favourite Sardinian food wherever he is. To make this recipe, he used canned sea urchins, which you don’t find so easily in London. You can buy them at Sardos Fine Food stall, at Tottenham Green Sunday market or at Marylebone Cabbage & Frocks Saturday market. This recipe serves four.

Ingredients (approximately):
350g malloreddus pasta
200g asparagus tips
100g canned sea urchin
2 cloves of garlic
extra virgin olive oil
fresh parsley, chopped

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Thanksgiving recipe – a Sardinian take (pudda prena a sa sarda)

This traditional Sardinian recipe will be a great alternative to your classic Thanksgiving roast. Instead of being cooked in the oven, this bird is boiled, instead of giving you turkey sandwiches as leftovers, this will give you succulent tender meat to add to your salads and a rich stock for your risottos, soups or meat stews. It brings me so many childhood memories because this is the Sunday dish my grandma used to prepare for the family. Like she would have done, I used a nice corn fed rampant chicken: my butcher cleaned it for me so it was ready to stuff. I would have needed the inside organs for the stuffing, but they were not included in the purchase, so I bought some chicken hearts separately. Another must-have ingredient is lard: according to all my family, it is the very ingredient that keeps the stuffing together and gives it the right texture. But worry not, just like I did, you will be able to find it at the supermarket.

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Treasures from the sea: Linguine alla Bottarga

A classic of Sardinian cuisine, pasta alla bottarga will be one of the first dishes you will try or be offered when visiting Sardinia (or a Sardinian friend). Bottarga is the gold of Sardinia: like a parmesan of the sea, this delicatessen, made of dry fish roe, will give that extra flavour to any seafood meal, especially when we talk about risotto or pasta, it is a must to add a little as a final touch. This recipe, like all Italian classics, is open to be changed to your taste and you will find, when you speak with different Italians or Sardinians, that each of them have their own style. The puritans will tell you that the best way is to add just a drizzle of olive oil to your pasta and a teaspoon or two of bottarga and your dish is ready. I’m a garlic lover and I like to create a cream with the bottarga, so below I add butter to it: far from the tradition, which would probably favour animal fat. Also, to this same recipe you can add a crushed red chilli pepper if you like it hot, a teaspoon or two of lemon zest if you want to add aroma, or squeeze a bit of lemon juice before serving to make it taste fresher. Bear in mind, I’m using linguine for this recipe, but you can use the pasta you like, even if long pasta is recommended as the sauce sticks nicely to it.

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Bottarga: the Sardinian Gold

Bottarga (also called bottargo or bottariga…) is a delicacy widely used in the south of the Mediterranean: several cuisines have this fish roe amongst their ingredients, but it is commonly associated with Sardinian cuisine. Hence, it is an indispensable element of my cooking.
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The preparation of this magical ingredient is rather simple: the fish roe is usually taken from grey mullet or tuna, and it is left to dry in salt after being pressed into an oblong shape. This is then coated in beeswax for preservation purposes. It has a very strong fishy flavour, which is a real speciality to be used for antipasti like in this marvellous cabbage and pine nuts dish (photo below) or as an addition to fish based pasta (like a parmigiano of the sea).

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