Today we meet Luke from Britain, who has a special bond with the emerald isle of Sardegna, and its glorious food.
Sardinian cuisine is heavily influenced by Italian continental cuisine with notable amounts of pasta, gnocchi, pizza oven baked bread, but shines in its own roasted meats, freshly caught fish, seafood concoctions and a wide variety of tasty Pecorino cheeses, often paired with locally farmed Sardinian honey.
Sardinian specialities include porceddu which is a spit-roasted suckling pig, baked slowly over hot coals for about 3 hours. There are also all sots of different types of home-made pasta dishes, often served with ricotta, or hundreds of varieties of local Pecorino cheese.
Culurgiones are famous traditional Sardinian stuffed dough pockets, whose name means, 'little bundles' which accurately describes these parcels of joy. Although a little tricky to make as the stitching process requires a little practice, the actual pasta base is easy enough to make and the cooking is minimal.
As with making any pasta from scratch, the key is patience, so it's best to set aside some time and enjoy the whole cooking process without worrying about the clock.
It is paramount to use the best ingredients for this dish in order to allow the simple flavours to shine.
You'll need the following ingredients to make the pasta base:
250 grams semolina
250 grams all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
100 grams warm water, more or less
Mix together the semolina, flour, olive oil and salt. Then slowly add the warm water a little at a time while kneading, until you obtain an elastic dough, which is manageable and supple. Form a ball, place in a bowl and keep covered for half an hour.
Next up you will need to make the filling for the Culurgiones, for which you will need the following ingredients:
4 medium sized potatoes
50 grams sheep's milk ricotta
50 grams Sardinian pecorino cheese, grated
Some fresh mint leaves, chopped
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
Boil the peeled potatoes in salted water until soft and fluffy. Once ready, rice the potatoes and stir in the cheeses, fresh mint and olive oil. Leave the filling to cool for an hour. If you are in a rush it's best to transfer the mashed potato mix from the pan to a mixing bowl, as this will speed up the cooling process.
Now that you have your pasta and filling for the Culurgiones, the next step is to prepare your dough and set up a production line for making them.
Once you have your circles of pasta, take a teaspoon and drop a small amount of filling on each disc. The next step is a little tricky and requires some practice.
Hold the disk in your hand and fold one side over the potato filling then pinch the middle of the fold with your finger and plait the two sides together. The pasta should be like braiding where one side rests on top of the other.
Boil the Culurgiones parcels in salted water for around five minutes until tender.
Traditionally the dish is accompanied with a simple tomato sauce, a sprinkling of pecorino cheese, some fresh mint, and a good bottle of local wine. Common recipe variations include the addition of onion in the filling, or seasonings like nutmeg or saffron.
Good luck and enjoy!
Luke is passionate about traveling and cooking, and works with Charming Sardinia a travel company that offers tailor made luxury holidays to Sardinia. He is crazy about food and spends most of his time sourcing quality ingredients and finding recipes to try out on friends.
Love the foods and traditions of Sardinia? Interested in reading more about it? Check out my articles (with recipes) on Pane Carasau, Malloreddus, Seadas typical dishes of Sardegna.