Sardegna folks consume interesting quantities of dried pasta, in the familiar forms of spaghetti and maccheroni, though they also make the singular ravioli-like Culurgiones, toss Fregula buttons in their soups, and roll homemade semolina gnocchi called malloreddus, commonly described as the region’s most typical dish.
Here's the recipe to make them from scratch. Otherwise you can purchase them here.
800 g (4 cups) semolina flour
300 g (1 1/2 cups) warmed water
1 tsp powdered saffron
Mound the semolina and poke a hole in the top. Pour in the water, salt, and saffron in the crater, and using a fork, beat them together. Now begin to incorporate the semolina, starting with the inner rim of the volcano. When half of the semolina is incorporated, the dough will begin to come together. OK, now start kneading the dough, using the palms of your hands, mostly.
Discard any stray dried bits of dough and continue kneading for 10 more minutes, dusting the work surface with more flour if necessary. The dough should feel springy and a little bit sticky. Cover the dough with a clean cloth and allow to rest in a dusted bowl for 30 minutes at room temperature before using.
Cut the pasta into 4 parts. Roll each into a 1-inch snake, and cut into bolt-sized nuggets. Roll each piece on this tool, or down the back of a fork with your thumb to give it the characteristic ridges, and set aside on a floured surface until ready to cook.
|Image © giallozafferano|
For the sauce:
400 g (14 oz) canned tomatoes, crushed
200 g (1 cup) Italian sausage, peeled and minced
1 white onion, thinly sliced
A bunch of fresh wild fennel (can be substituted with fennel seeds if necessary)
Extra virgin olive oil
Lots of Pecorino or Fiore Sardo cheese, grated
Film a large skillet with a thread of olive oil, and lightly brown the sausage, when evenly colored, add the onion, and simmer over a low flame until translucent.
In a bowl, steep the chopped wild fennel in 1/4 cup olive oil and set aside.
When the onion and sausage have married, add the canned tomatoes and cook over mild heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally: do this for the pleasure of fogging up your glasses and inhaling the aroma. As every passionate cook knows, when you cook with love and pleasure, flavor and final outcome profit.
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a rolling boil, cook your homemade malloreddus, and drain quite al dente.
Drop the cooked pasta into the pan with the tomatoes, mixing well until well coated.
Stir in the fennel marinade, and simmer over vivacious heat for another 3-4 minutes.
Sprinkle 3 handfuls of grated cheese, and stir some more. Serve straight from the cooking pan onto hot plates, dusted with more grated Pecorino or Fiore Sardo, and a large smile on your face.