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Tortelli di Zucca

The Cuisine of Sardinia

“Sa cuchina minore no timet su fuste” – Simple cuisine makes the home great.

Recipes and photographs from “Sweet Myrtle and Bitter Honey” by Efisio Farris.

In Sardinia every friendship begins at the table. There are no strangers, simply friends that are not yet known. It begins with a glass of Cannonau wine and some bread. Conversation follows and the simple pleasures of laughter, coupled with simple food make for simple pleasures. It is a Sardinian recipe for happiness and an important lesson that Italians understand perhaps better than any other people in the world.

Purpu de Santa Maria

The Festa di Santa Maria del Mare takes place on the last Sunday of each May. The procession begins in the morning from San Marco Church. A statue of the Virgin Mary is carried on foot to Orosei and is then placed on a ship decorated with flowers, followed by some fishermen’s boats, also decked out in flowers from bow to stern. The flotilla then sails to the mouth of the river near the Church of Santa Maria ‘e Mare, where the shores are lined with cheering people. No festa is complete without food and the traditional favorite is Purpu de Santa Maria.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb octopus
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preparation

If using a whole fresh octopus, clean it thoroughly. Remove the eyes and beak and turn it inside out and discard the viscera. Rinse under cold water, checking the tentacles especially well for sand. In a stock pot, bring 6-8 cups of water, plus the red wine vinegar to a boil. Add the octopus and boil for 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the octopus to sit for another 15 minutes. Remove the octopus and immediately immerse it into a bowl filled with ice water to stop the cooking. Pat the octopus dry and cut it into ¾” pieces. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice with the parsley and garlic. Refrigerate until ready to use. Prior to serving, add the lemon juice to the octopus and toss to combine. Add olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

Pressutu de Verveke kin Icu

Figs, dandelion, abbamele and lamb prosciutto combine in a very special way with pecorino in a salad. Abbamele is a honey and bee pollen reduction that is semi-sweet and perfect on salads. Sardinian prosciutto was traditionally made using the leg of a pig or a boar, but some creative souls went to the trouble of making it out of lamb. It is still unavailable in the U.S., so you can substitute prosciutto made from duck.

  • 1 lb lamb (or duck magre) prosciutto, thinly sliced
  • ½ lb red dandelion leaves (or chicory)
  • 4 figs, quartered
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 oz Pecorino Sardo cheese, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp abbamele

Preparation

Lay the shaved prosciutto on a platter. Toss the dandelions and figs with ½ cup olive oil. Lay the mixture on top of the prosciutto. Top with pecorino shavings and drizzle with the remaining olive oil and abbamele.

Suppa Cuata

In this recipe you can vary the cheeses to suit your tastes; however, it is important to use soft cheeses like fontina and young pecorino. The softer cheese melts in the broth and becomes wonderfully creamy.

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf stale Italian bread
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • ½ lb Pecorino Fresco
  • ½ lb Fontina
  • 6 oz Parmigiano cheese
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • black pepper to taste

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375°F. Bring the broth to a boil in a pot. Slice the bread in medium thickness and then toast under a broiler or on a grill. When toasted, rub a garlic clove across the bread while still warm. Grate all the cheeses into separate bowls. Chop parsley and add to freshly grated Parmigiano. Add black pepper to taste.

Place slices of bread on the bottom of an over-proof dish approx. 9”x7”. Sprinkle half of the Pecorino Fresco and half of the Parmigiano over the bread. Repeat for a second layer – bread, Pecorino, Parmigiano. Add another layer of bread. Ladle the hot broth over it until the bread is covered and then sprinkle the top with the Fontina cheese. Bake in the pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes, until all the cheese is melted. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve.

Fergula kin Isparau e Gorgonzola

Making fregula in the style of risotto is not only tasty, but it also takes half the work and time of traditional risotto. Although you have to stir it constantly, it only takes 10 minutes to make. The result is a fantastic variation on traditional risotto. See the A Brief Glossary of Sardinian Terms for a description of fruttato olive oil and how to make fregula.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 medium bunch asparagus, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups fregula
  • ½ cup dry white wine (such as Vermentino)
  • ½ cup Gorgonzola cheese
  • 2 tbsp fruttato olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preparation

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium flame. Add the chopped shallot and sauté until golden. Add the asparagus and keep stirring for an additional 3 minutes. In another pot, bring the chicken stock to a boil. Add the fregula to the asparagus and cook for an additional 2 minutes, letting the fregula toast, stirring continuously. Pour in the white wine and cook until the liquid is absorbed. Add the boiling chicken stock to the saucepan. Cook for 10 minutes or until the liquid is fully absorbed. Remove from heat. Stir in the Gorgonzola until fully incorporated, then stir in the fruttato olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and let sit for 3-5 minutes before serving.

Pane Frattau

A traditional peasant dish, you will find this recipe prepared all over the island.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 cups lamb or beef broth
  • 4 round pane carasau
  • 1 cup finely grated Pecorino Sardo cheese
  • 4 eggs
  • ½ cup basil, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt

Preparation

Heat the tomato sauce to a boil. In a separate saucepan, bring the broth to a slow boil. In another larger saucepan, bring 5 cups of water to a simmer. Break each pane carasau into five pieces and warm the serving plates. To build each pane frattau, dip two pieces of pane carasau into the broth. Place the bread on top of the warmed serving plate. Layer tomato sauce on the bread and top with pecorino cheese. Dip two more pieces of the bread into the broth and place on top of the sauce and cheese, again topping with sauce and Pecorino. Repeat for a third layer. Build the remaining pane frattau using the same process. Poach the eggs individually in the simmering water. Remove each with a slotted spoon and place one egg on each of the pane frattau. Sprinkle with chopped basil. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle the egg yolk with sea salt.