Malloreddus or Sardinian Gnocchi.
Malloreddus, also called gnocchetti sardi or ‘little Sardinian gnocchi’ are a typical pasta from Sardinia. There are different opinions on the origins of the name. I have read that ‘malloreddu’ comes from the Latin mallolus and means morsel or little bits. However according to Wikipedia, ‘the term malloreddu is a diminutive of malloru, which in Sardinian campidanese dialect (southern Sardinia and central-southern) means bull. Consequently, malloreddus means vitelline (calves)’. This pasta is also called Sardinian gnocchi because of their shape as they really look like tiny potato gnocchi but are, in fact, made of durum wheat semolina flour, water and salt.
Homemade Malloreddus may have a pinch of ground saffron in the dough which gives them a slightly yellow colour. To get the characteristic shape, Sardinians traditionally hand-rolled the pieces of dough on a round reed basket. Nowadays most people use a small wooden board that looks like an gnocchi board but is actually called a malloreddus board and is slightly different to the gnocchi one, although you can use either. You can see this pasta being made using both on this video from Pasta Grannies.
These Sardinian gnocchi have always been the most prepared traditional dish in Sardinia for special occasions, such as holidays, village festivals, and during weddings. Apparently there was a tradition that a bride would bring a basket of homemade malloreddus to the house of her new husband and they would eat the saffron-infused pasta together from a shared plate!
Malloreddus lend themselves to a variety of sauces and there are many recipes for this pasta, but perhaps the most well-known is ‘malloreddus alla campidanese’, a delicious fennel sausage, saffron and tomato sauce that is a similar in taste to both Roman amatricana and the Neapolitan ragù.
Sardinian gnocchi are also served with bottarga and clams, with seafood such as salmon or shrimp or simply with pecorino and saffron in a dish called malloreddus ‘a casu furriau’. Another typical recipe for these gnocchetti is ‘malloreddus alla nuorese’, for which there are many versions but often includes sheep’s cheese such as ricotta or stagnant pecorino , potatoes, onions and wild fennel. Interestingly, this pasta is also eaten ‘alla sassarese’ which is a sauce made from just cream and semolina.
Despite the fact that there are still so many pasta types to try and thousands of recipes to make, I hope to try out some more Sardinian gnocchi recipes and make the pasta myself by hand. First time round I used dried Malloreddus from Rummo. The first recipe I made was the above mentioned ‘alla Campidanese’ and it was superlicious, so I’m sure other recipes for this pasta will be delicious too!