Great Foods of Italy: Sardinian Malloreddus


I grandi cibi italiani: malloreddus sardi

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Malloreddus, also known as Sardinian gnocchetti, are one of the most well-known and beloved types of pasta in Sardinia. They have the shape of thin striped shells, about 2 cm long, and are made of semolina flour and water. 

The pasta’s unique shape and its striped surface are obtained through the use of a special tool, the ‘rigagnocchi’, a striped cutting board; the dough’s rough texture makes the pasta perfect for holding a number of different sauces.

The origin of the odd name “malloreddus” seems to be found in the Sardinian dialect word malloru (hence the diminutive malloreddu) which can be translated as “bull.” In this sense, the term malloreddu means calf, an inventive association and a typically peasant jargon that refer to the pasta’s pot-belly shape.

Sardinian women have been preparing this type of pasta for a long time; its popularity over the entire Sardinian territory is also due to the large amount of wheat, grown throughout the Mediterranean area and therefore a main source of livelihood.

Malloreddus were once kneaded manually; housewives mixed semolina and water, the dough was then rolled out and cut into long sticks, then into cubes and finally modeled with the so-called ciuliri, a sort of straw basket that gave the pasta its characteristic striped back and hollow shape. Today, a striped cutting board is used instead. 

The malloreddus seem to have originated in southern Sardinia, in the Campidano region. In fact, the typical recipe of the pastoral tradition is malloreddus alla campidanese, seasoned with a tasty ragu based on Sardinian sausage, tomato, saffron and onion. 

This pasta format lends itself to be enriched with many sauces. In the past, saffron pistils were added to the dough, while today, if used, is added later as an ingredient. Malloreddus can also be eaten with a “white” sauce of bottarga and clams, but also simply with a sprinkling of fresh Sardinian pecorino, or aged pecorino and wild fennels. 

Malloreddus are served during all important Sardinian events, such as village festivals and weddings.


I malloreddus, conosciuti anche come gnocchetti sardi, sono uno dei formati di pasta più conosciuti e amati della Sardegna. Hanno la forma di sottili conchiglie rigate, misurano circa 2 cm, e sono fatti di farina di semola e acqua.

Questa singolare forma di pasta e la sua superficie rigata sono ottenute attraverso l'utilizzo di un attrezzo speciale, il "rigagnocchi", un tagliere rigato appunto; la consistenza ruvida dell'impasto rende i malloreddus perfetti per trattenere un grande

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