When we think about Sardinia, the wonderful Italian island in the middle of Mediterranean Sea, we think about Caribbean-like beaches, high society and lush marine landscapes.
It’s all true, but Sardinia is a 24.100 sqKm (9,300 sq Mi) wide island, with a strong rural tradition, too.
Malloreddus are a typical kind of pasta, made of durum wheat flour and scented with saffron, usually served with savoury sauces, which are not so common outside of this region, but that are invariably loved by those who taste them.
They are a kind of pasta that can be prepared at home, because they don’t require any special tool or ability to be made, even if they are a little demanding for what concerns time and labour. But results will pay the efforts back.
How to prepare malloreddus at home
As it often happens with traditional food products (come they from Italy or not), the key to success lies in an accurate choice of ingredients, while preparations are pretty simple.
They usually are made after ancient recipes, developed when no mechanical – nor electrical! – tool helped cooks sparing their time and their energy, so dishes are just the result of good ingredients and that little skill everyone can achieve by doing always the same thing.
Sardinian malloreddus are a clear example of such a kind of recipe.
Ingredients (for four servings)
400 g (15 Oz) durum wheat flour
1 g (0.035 Oz) saffron pistils
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Malloreddus has to dry out before being cooked in hot boiling water, therefore they must be prepared some hours in advance: usually the night before the day they will be consumed.
First of all, an infusion of saffron pistils must be prepared in half a cup of not-too-hot water (50/60°C). Once the water has turned brick red, the infusion is ready; it should take about 30 or 40 minutes.
Knead durum wheat flour with oil, a hint of salt and the infusion (including pistils), adding as much water as needed to be able to work it.
Pay attention not to use too much water. Working durum wheat dough is harder than working dough made with common wheat flour, so spare water and abound with elbow grease.
Once you’ve obtained a smooth dough, work small portions of it in sausage shape, then cut them in regular pieces not larger than 2 centimetres (0,8 In).
Curl each piece by rubbing it with your thumb on a fork’s prongs. This takes a little practice, but before you finish your dough, you’ll obtain regular shell-shaped small gnocchi with a ridged surface.
Let malloreddus dry on a wooden board for at least 12 hours (it depends on room’s humidity).
Cook them in salted boiling water, as you do with any kind of pasta, and drain them “al dente” (they usually take 8/9 minutes to cook, according to their thickness).
They are traditionally served with a ragout prepared with Sardinian sausages, which are first panfried in onion and then stewed in tomato sauce, and finally dressed with Pecorino Sardo, the typical local cheese made from Sardinian sheep milk.