If last week’s post about Sardinian maggot cheese Casu Marzu left a bad taste in your mouth, don’t worry, Sardinia has plenty of other great local food worth trying!
This week, I’ve put together a list of my own favourite Sardinian foods.
Now a bit of warning – unfortunately I’m not the world’s biggest fan of seafood. Shocking I know, especially given that I live on an island in the middle of the Mediterranean, but well, it is what it is!
Anyway, if you feel like reading on, especially after that shocking revelation, here are 5 Sardinian foods I’ve tried again and again. In my opinion, they’re not to be missed if you visit Sardinia…
Culurgiones are quintessentially Sardinian – the original recipe hails from the area of Ogliastra, on the east coast of the island.
They’re so Sardinian in fact, that they were given IGP status – Indicazione Geografica Protetta, or Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) – by the European Union in 2015.
Culurgiones are a type of stuffed pasta, similar in some ways to Ravioli. They’re made from semolina flour, and are usually stuffed with potatoes, pecorino cheese, and mint. They’re then served with a simple homemade tomato sauce.
Culurgiones are handmade individually, and it takes practice, time, and patience. The finished products are almost a piece of art in their own right!
Here’s a video explaining the process from Pasta Grannies on YouTube.
Depending on what part of Sardinia you find yourself in, the name of this famous dish can change. Su Porcheddu, Su Proheddu, Su Porcheddeddu, Porcetto, or Porceddu, are all names for ‘Roast Suckling Pig’ or Maialetto sardo in Italian.
To make true Sardinian Porcheddu, the pig must be less than 40 days old, and it usually doesn’t weigh more than 6kg – this makes the meat very tender when roasted.
The traditional way of roasting the pig is over a large outdoor fire pit, or in front of a large fireplace. The pig is wrapped in aromatic myrtle leaves – known locally as Mirto – then usually left to roast for two to three hours.
Su Porcheddu is best served with a strong Sardinian Cannonau red wine.
Malloreddus alla Campidanese
Malloreddus, which some people might call Gnocchetti sardi, are a type of small shell-shaped pasta made using semolina flour.
The pasta is usually served al dente with a homemade tomato ragù sauce. The most popular recipe using this type of pasta is the delicious Malloreddus alla campidanese served in a tomato ragù sauce with Sardinian pork sausage and pecorino sheep’s cheese.
Malloreddus, although delicious, are usually only served as a first course, so be sure not to fill up on them!
Similar to Culurgiones, the best Malloreddus are handmade.
Here’s the Pasta Grannies again to show us how it’s done…
Since Roman times, Sardinia has been famous for its high quality grain. It’s no surprise then that Sardinia has literally hundreds of different variations of tasty traditional local bread. To be honest, I could do a full post on bread alone!
I’ve managed to narrow the list down to three though, and my favourites happen to be some of the most popular…
Pane Carasau, or ‘toasted bread’ when translated from Sardinian, is a traditional thin flatbread. The bread is thin and very crispy, owing to the fact that it is baked twice. Pane carasau can last up to one year if it is kept dry.
According to archaeologists, carasau bread was eaten on the island already before 1000 BC, during the Bronze Age, as evidenced by the remains of ovens and tools found in some Nuraghe settlements.
The bread has long been eaten by shepherds in Sardinia’s mountainous regions. In the past, the shepherds would spend long periods of time away from home, and would need food to last a long time. Their diet during these long periods away from home usually consisted of cured meats, pecorino sheeps’s cheese, and pane carasau.
Pane Carasau is very versatile and is also used as the basis of some famous Sardinian recipes – the most famous being Pane Frattau.
This dish is made by dipping pane carasau in mutton broth and stacking it in layers between coats of tomato sauce and pecorino cheese – a poached egg is then served on top.
Pane Carasau is also great for snacking and aperitivi. When roasted with salt and olive oil, it becomes the very addictive Pane Guttiau.
Pane Pistoccu, which hails from Ogliastra, is very similar to Pane Carasau. The bread is made in a similar way, but it is much thicker. It’s a great crunchy bread to be eaten with jams, cheeses, Nutella, or even on its own as a snack.
Pane Civraxu (pronounced Chiv-Raju) is mainly found in the south of Sardinia, originally hailing from the town of Sanluri. This bread is different from Pane Carasau and Pane Pistoccu as it comes in loaves.
Civraxu is made using Semola flour, and lievito madre, or fresh yeast. Traditional Civraxu bread sometimes takes more than 24 hours to prepare, and it’s usually roasted in a wood-fired oven. The bread is unusual as it keeps its freshness for up to a week – even Civraxu bread older than a week can still be used to make bruschetta (pronounced brus-ketta – no SH sound here!).
My wife Claudia recently gave it a go at making Civraxu bread, and did a fantastic job!
If you have a sweet tooth, be sure not to miss these. The difference in the name depends on what part of Sardinia you find yourself, but the recipe is the exact same.
North and Central Sardinia = Seadas
South Sardinia = Sebadas
My wife happens to be from the north, but we live in the south, so I’m usually torn between both names…
Anyway, these things are very addictive, and despite their savoury ingredients of pastry and cheese, they are in fact served as a dessert. The best Seadas/Sebadas are served with Mediterranean honey – although some people use sugar instead.
These sweet desserts are best described as a type of large semolina dumpling. They are filled with soured pecorino cheese and lemon peel, and are then deep-fried in olive oil or lard.
It doesn’t sound like much, but they really are amazing, and I don’t even have a sweet tooth!
I know this list is not a complete list of everything that Sardinia has to offer, but these are up there as my favourites. Some foods that of course deserve an honourable mention are:
Papassini or papassinos in Sardinian – small almond biscuits, perfect with an espresso.
Panadas – a Sardinian type of pastry pie, usually filled with vegetables or roasted eel.
Su Filindeu – typical from Nuoro, this is a dish made with extremely thin pasta served in mutton broth with pecorino cheese. The Filindeu pasta is apparently the rarest pasta in the world, as it is extremely difficult to make, and not very many people make it commercially.
Bottarga – hailing from Cabras, near Oristano, this is a delicacy of salted, cured fish roe, typically of the grey mullet or the bluefin tuna. Bottarga can be quite expensive, and is usually served as part of a pasta dish.
Do you have any favourite Sardinian foods not mentioned in my list? Please let me know in the comments!