Each has its own preparation ritual, with meticulous and codified gestures, always the same, handed down from mother to daughter. The traditional pastas, both dry and fresh, are a bond between everyday life and celebrations. They are ever-present in moments to be remembered and are daily protagonists at the table, at home, in restaurants and in holiday farms. Their origin has been lost over time: wheat seeds have even been found even in the nuraghi, so it is no coincidence that Sardinia became the ‘granary of Rome’. The tradition has been cultivated (literally) up until the present day, generating a unique and solemn mixture of art, conviviality and taste.
Malloreddus in Campidano, cigiones or ciocioneddos in and around Sassari, macarones cravaos in the Nuoro area, chiusoni in Gallura, cassulli in Carloforte. So many names for the most widespread, and perhaps the most ancient, variety of pasta on the island. They are small ridged shells, made from flour and water. To give the pasta shape and ridges, the pieces of dough are squashed on the bottom of a wicker basket using the thumb. They are seasoned in plenty of different ways: the most famous version is malloreddus alla campidanese (Campidano style), with sausage meat sauce. Alternatively, you can taste them a casu furriau, with melted pecorino cheese, and a mazza frissa, with a cream-based sauce, or maccarronis de orgiu (made of barley), with grated ricotta cheese.
This is the traditional culinary speciality of Ogliastra, which has been recognised as a PGI product. They are filled with potatoes, pecorino cheese and mint and there are a few variants - like onion in Tortolì and basil in Villagrande Strisaili - and they have an elongated shape with minutely detailed decorations, like the sa spighitta edges, which remind you of an ear of wheat. The most common seasoning is ‘tomato and basil’. However, the value of the culurgiones goes beyond its captivating flavour. In fact, the ‘ear of wheat’ closure symbolises wheat and had a propitiatory function for the agricultural year; they were also a sort good-luck charm for protecting families from bereavement and, on the night before All Saints’ Day, a plate of them was left out to honour the memory of dead.
The name comes from the Latin ferculum, which became ‘fregolo’ in the vernacular, meaning ‘crumb’, to indicate the very small size. Durum wheat flour and water are the ingredients used to make these small grains, obtained by rotating the dough, then leaving them to dry in the sun on a horsehair sieve, covered with a cloth. Fregula pasta is everywhere in Sardinia, with tasty variants. The classic recipe is with seafood, like sa fregula cun cocciula (with clams), a speciality in Cagliari, but it is also served in fish, vegetable or meat soups. In Logudoro the typical recipe is su succu istuvadu, baked in the oven. Sa fregula incasada, creamed with pecorino cheese, is the protagonist at country fêtes in Castiadas and in San Basilio.
A speciality so ancient and unique that it is the protagonist of folk legends. Yet the ingredients are always the same, durum wheat flour, water and salt. The long work entailed to make it is interesting and the shape, similar to an earring, is one of a kind. The preparation of this pasta has been documented since the 16th century, under the Spanish Crown. Today it still 'lives' only in Morgongiori, at the foot of Mount Arci, where you can taste it, on the first Sunday in August, during the fête dedicated to it, with its traditional seasoning: tomato sauce with free-range chicken sauce, enriched with herbs and grated pecorino cheese.
Grazia Deledda immortalised it in her stories about the ‘popular traditions of Nuoro’, but now, the secret of the su filindeu is guarded by just a few women from Barbagia. It is a special dish, so full of meanings that there is a mystical aura around it: for centuries it has been offered on the occasion of the feast of San Francesco to pilgrims arriving from Nuoro, on foot or by horse, at the little country church of Lula named after the saint. The soup with the 'threads of God' is a concentration of the flavours and aromas of Barbagia, with a succulent taste, from the lamb broth and the slivers of pecorino cheese, that seduces the palate.