Malloreddus with lamb ragu (Sardinian gnocchi)

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5 from 4 votes
Malloreddus with lamb ragu (Sardinian gnocchi)
Malloreddus with lamb ragu (Sardinian gnocchi with lamb)
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 9 mins
Total Time
1 hr 29 mins

This delicious pasta and lamb dish from Sardinia is bound to be a winner with family and friends. It's rich and flavourful and not that difficult to make.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian, Sardinia
Servings: 4
Author: Jacqueline De Bono
  • 400 g Sardinian gnocchi (malloreddus) You can also use cavatelli or tagliatelle
  • 400 g boneless shoulder or leg of lamb (I cut the meat off large chops)
  • 400 g Fresh tomatoes (San Marzano are good) or tomato passata I also use half fresh tomatoes and half passata rustica
  • 2 garlic cloves peeled
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1-2 carrots finely chopped
  • 1-2 celery stalks finely chopped
  • 1 onion peeled and finely chopped
  • 50 g pecorino Romano grated
  • 1/2 glass red or white wine
  • 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt for pasta and to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 fresh peperoncino (red chili pepper) optional
  • 2 ladles stock (you can use a stock cube dissolved in a cup of boiling water)
To make broth
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • lamb bones
  1. Cut the meat into small pieces, removing most of the fat if necessary and season with salt and pepper.

  2. Chop the vegetables finely (onion, carrot and celery) and peel the garlic.
  3. If using fresh tomatoes, immerse them in boiling water for 2 minutes then rinse and peel them. Cut the peeled tomatoes in half and remove the seeds

  4. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan or skillet. Add the bay leaves and garlic.

  5. Once the garlic starts to soften, add the peperoncino if you are using it and the meat. Brown the meat over a high flame for 5 minutes.

  6. Remove the meat from the pan and add the chopped onions, celery and carrot with more oil if necessary. Once they start to soften return the meat to the pan and mix everything together well.

  7. Add the wine and let the alcohol evaporate then season with salt and pepper. 
  8. Add the peeled tomatoes cut in half with the seeds removed (or the passata) and the broth, cook for about 1 hour on a very low flame or until the lamb is very tender. Stir occasionally and add more broth, passata or water if the sauce seems dry.

  9. In the meantime, put a pot of water on to boil for the pasta. Add salt once it starts to boil and bring to the boil again.
  10. Cook the malloreddus al dente according to the instructions on the packet. Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the sauce. Sprinkle over some of the grated pecorino and mix everything together well. Serve immediately with extra grated pecorino if required.

For stock if you have lamb bones.
  1. If you want to make your own stock peel the onion and cut it in half. Wash and cut the celery and carrot into 2-3 pieces. Put the cleaned lamb bones, vegetables and bay lef in a pot. Add enough water to cover the ingredients and simmer for at least 1 hour half covered. You can skim off the fat that rises to the top before using this stock in the ragu.

Recipe Notes

Traditionally this recipe is made with malloreddus or fregula. However, many different pastas would go well. For example tagliatelle or cavatelli.


If you like lamb with pasta, take a look at these other scrumptious recipes.

  1. Pasta with lamb and artichokes
  2. Fusilli with lamb ragu from Molise
  3. Lamb lasagna
Pin for Latermalloreddus with lamb ragu sardinian gnocchi


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  • Avatar
    May 18, 2019 5:11 am

    New Zealand has plentiful lamb & we love barbecued butterflied leg of lamb, so when our wine tasting group of 8 to 10 is having a Sardinian Tasting, what better to cook than a double recipe of your Gnocchetti Sardi with Lamb Ragu, using a beautiful 1.5kg butterflied leg of lamb…..Malloreddus pasta was too hard to find, so I’m substituting with Radiatori with a gnocchi shape & a sauce trapping ruffled edge of fins like an old school radiator….I’m sure it’ll be delicious with those dark Sardinian reds

    • Jacqui
      May 20, 2019 7:38 pm

      Thank you for your comment Peter. I can imagine how delicious your lamb ragu will be! I think radiatori is a good choice if you can’t find malloreddus. Do let me know how it turns out. Buon appetito!

  • Avatar
    August 13, 2018 1:07 pm

    Anything that has lamb in it is perfect and delicious in my book. Great recipe!

  • Avatar
    Stephanie Simmons
    August 12, 2018 7:45 pm

    I will always eat anything with gnnochi in it! This is no exception 🙂

  • Avatar
    Chef Mireille
    August 12, 2018 7:11 pm

    I love lamb -it’s one of my fave proteins. I guess more availability is one benefit of immigration 🙂 – I’ve never seen this cut of pasta before I’ll have to look more carefully for it at the markets that offer larger varieties of pasta shapes. It looks like it would drink up a sauce well!

  • Avatar
    August 10, 2018 4:17 pm

    I love lamb and gnocchi together! I’ve never made lamb at home, though. This looks like a recipe that I could tackle, though!

  • Avatar
    Arjhon Canoy
    August 10, 2018 8:51 am

    The picture of the dish really looks good and makes me hungry. I don’t have Sardinian gnocchi right now but I’m going to try this one using tagliatelle pasta. Thank you for sharing this easy recipe.

  • Avatar
    August 9, 2018 12:19 am

    Your Lamb ragu looks so delicious! I love the shape of the gnocchi/pasta (Malloredus). The cuts of lamb in US groceries are very limited and usually just lamb chops. I might have to go to a specialty grocer/butcher for this dish.

  • Avatar
    August 8, 2018 5:08 pm

    Well we love gnocchi and lamb. Looks like a winner to me. I would make a huge batch and put some in the freezer for later. What a great way to feed a hungry family.

  • Avatar
    Adriana Lopez Martin
    August 8, 2018 7:14 am

    A comforting meal indeed love gnocchi and lamb and the fact that you can cook the meal in one pot also makes it very easy for us at home to make. I wish I coudl have a bowl now.

    • Jacqui
      August 8, 2018 5:03 pm

      Thank you Adriana, yes this is a really hearty and comforting meal, although the pasta does have to be cooked separately, so not completely a one pot meal!

  • Avatar
    August 7, 2018 6:15 pm

    Lamb is one of those meats that is hit and miss with my kids, but I think they will love this with the gnocchi, will have to try it, great idea!

    • Jacqui
      August 8, 2018 5:07 pm

      Thanks Michelle, I agree not everyone likes lamb but I found kids here like eating it with pasta! So, worth trying!

  • Avatar
    Kelly Anthony
    August 7, 2018 1:51 pm

    This would be great for entertaining! Love how you took a traditional recipe and made it new by changing the pasta.

  • Avatar
    Stine Mari
    August 7, 2018 10:38 am

    It’s not easy to find lamb here in Norway either. But it’s in season in the Fall, so I’m guessing it’s right around the corner. This dish looks really comforting, hearty and yummy!

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