Malloreddus alla campidanese

Malloreddus alla campidanese
Malloreddus are a kind of pasta typical of the island region of Sardinia. Also called gnocchetti sardi or ‘little Sardinian gnocchi’ after their dumpling-like shape, malloreddus are made from durum wheat flour, water, salt and—a very Sardinian touch—a pinch of ground saffron. They lend themselves to a variety of sauces but perhaps my personal favorite way to make them is alla campidanese—with an utterly simple but delicious sausage and tomato sauce that is vaguely reminiscent both of the Roman amatricana and the Neapolitan ragù.

Ingredients (for 4-6 servings)

400g (14 oz.) malloreddus

For the sauce:
200g (7 oz.) mild Italian sausage meat
Olive oil
1 garlic clove
400g (14 oz.) best-quality canned tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 large or 2 small bay leaves
A few fresh basil leaves (optional)
A pinch of saffron threads, ground in a mortar 
Salt and pepper to taste

To finish:
100g (3-1/2 oz.) of freshly grated pecorino cheese (preferably Sardinian)


Remove the sausage meat from its casings and crumble the meat into a skillet with a healthy drizzle of olive oil. Allow the meat to brown lightly, breaking up the sausage meat into even smaller bits with a wooden spoon as it browns. Remove the sausage meat with a slotted spoon. 
In the fat remaining in the skillet, sauté the garlic clove, which you will have slightly crushed with the side of a knife, just until it begins to give off its aroma. Immediately add the canned tomatoes, with your hands, crushing them between your fingers as they go in. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and let the sauce simmer until it thickens nicely, about 15-20 minutes. 
Meanwhile, boil the malloreddus in abundant, well-salted water until al dente, usually about 12 minutes. Drain and add your pasta directly into the skillet and toss it all together. Add the grated pecorino and serve immediately, with more pecorino on the side for those who want some.


NOTES: Malloreddus are actually fairly easy to make, certainly no harder than, say regular gnocchi. You mix your dough in the usual way, using a glassful of teipd water for 400g of flour, a pinch of salt and a pinch of ground saffron. Taking a handful of the dough at a time, roll it out as you would for potato gnocchi into ‘cords’ but rather thinner, about the circumference of a pencil. Cut the rope at 2cm (1/2-inch) intervals and then roll the pieces using the back of your thumb, against the prongs of a fork or a gnocchi board, to create a small, ridge-backed shell-like gnocco. If you use ground saffron, your malloreddus will have a lovely golden color almost like egg pasta. But you can omit the saffron if you prefer, which is how most factory maloreddus is made.
If you can’t find malloreddus in the store and don’t have the time or inclination to make your own, the same sauce is perfectly delicious with more conventional stubby pastas like pennette.

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10 Responses to “Malloreddus alla campidanese”

  1. 19 December 2013 at 13:29 #

    typical Sardinian tasty recipe! :)

  2. 1 November 2010 at 20:36 #

    There you go showing off your Italian again – you couldn't call it “Sardinian gnocchi?”

    This is actually a favorite and nice to see a recipe – although my homemade gnocchi have been… well..sort of …less than stellar.

  3. 30 October 2010 at 11:09 #

    I've been meaning to pick up some maloreddus to try out a recipe in my Sardinian cookbook but you just made making it at home sound so easy.

    I have a serious pasta craving now…

  4. 29 October 2010 at 23:58 #

    I love this…looks SO good!! I took part in a food exchange with a new friend from Sardinia. She sent me fregola, another Sardinian pasta. I wasn't sure what to serve with it, but his sausage ragu should work great. Also have a jar of saffron grown by her family.

  5. 29 October 2010 at 19:10 #

    Frank this looks SO delicious on this cold and foggy northern California night. Wish I had a big plate right now.

  6. 29 October 2010 at 17:21 #

    Sounds so good. Do you have a brand that you recommend for Italian sausage? I have never really used them in my cooking.

  7. 29 October 2010 at 16:13 #

    I have never heard of this dish before. It looks delicious and I'll definitely try anything that close to an Amatriciana. Will be on the lookout for it when I make it to Sardegna. Thanks.

  8. 29 October 2010 at 16:12 #

    i think I'm hungry!!! :D

  9. 29 October 2010 at 16:05 #

    Oh, YUM! This is one of my all-time favorite dishes and the dish I always order when dining at i Truli here in NYC. Thanks so much for this recipe for a classic. I'm printing this out! :)

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