Malloreddus Pasta with Bottarga and Cherry Tomatoes
Source: Valentina Guolo-Migotto, Ca’ Momi Osteria
This recipe was demonstrated for CUESA’s Market to Table program on August 13, 2016.
For centuries, malloreddus was made by hand, as it was the only way to achieve its distinctive ridges. Balls of dough were pressed with the thumb and then rolled on a special tool called a ciurili to form the characteristic grooves. This pasta has a few different monikers. It’s typically known as maccarrones de puntzu because of its appearance of little fists, but it’s also knows as “little bulls” in one of Sardinia’s many dialects. Elsewhere in Italy, malloreddus is called gnocchetti Sardi. If you’re looking for an easy way to introduce a little taste of Sardinia into your kitchen, or you’re looking for a quick substitute for any other dried pasta, the malloreddus is your noodle. Its unique ridges will hold the flavors of your favorite sauce in every bite. The malloreddus is also a dense pasta that is far more durable than others. It will retain its integrity when served on a buffet or made into pasta salad. A trademark of traditional Sardinian primi piatti, malloreddus Sardi is a staple in the Sardinian kitchen. It is typically served with a hearty tomato and lamb, beef, or sausage meat sauce.
300 millileters tepid water
.5 gram saffron threads
400 grams re-milled durum wheat semolina flour
1 tablespoon salt
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 spring onion, thinly sliced
500 grams cherry tomatoes, halved
1 teaspoon Calabrian chili flakes
12 leaves basil
15 grams bottarga
To make the pasta: Finely mince the saffron, add it to the tepid water in a bowl and allow it to steep for approximately 7-10 minutes, or until the water takes on a bright color. Combine the re-milled semolina and salt in a mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix at low speed for about 2 minutes. With the mixer running, add the saffron water slowly and mix until smooth and fairly dry to the touch (it shouldn’t stick to your hands). 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 ½-inch intervals and then roll the pieces using the back of your thumb, against a gnocchi board, to create a small, ridge-backed, shell-like gnocco. Heat a large pot of water over high heat until boiling. Add salt. In Italy, the golden rule for cooking pasta is 1, 10, 100: 1 liter of water and 10 grams of salt for every 100 grams of pasta. Converted for American cooks, the rule should be ⅓, 3, 30 – ⅓ ounce of salt, 3 ounces of pasta, and 30 ounces of water.
To make the sauce and cook the pasta: In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over low-medium heat.
Add the garlic and cook slowly until it’s golden. Add the onion. When the onion is lightly golden, add the cherry tomatoes and cook until they release their liquid. Add the chili flakes and cook a moment longer to integrate the flavors.
Cook the malloreddus in the boiling, salted water until mostly tender, but with a slight toothsome character. Thoroughly drain the cooked malloreddus, add to the warm sauce in the pan, and mix well over medium heat. Add the basil, grate most of the bottarga over the pasta and sauce, and toss together. Remove from the heat. Serve in warmed pasta bowls and grate additional bottarga over the pasta to taste. Finish each dish with a healthy drizzle of olive oil and serve immediately.
Photo courtesy of Jonny Tindall/Ca’ Momi Osteria.