Gnocchetti Sardi. Pasta of the week number 2.

The pasta variety, Gnocchetti Sardi, or little Sardinian gnocchi, is a small ridged pasta around two centimetres long. It’s a great shape to use when you want an amalgam of pasta, vegetables and protein, blending nicely into one comforting bowl.

Close up of Gnocchetti Sardi or Malloreddus

Malloreddus, the Sardinian name for these little gnocchi shapes, means small calves. They have been prepared since ancient times, often for festivals and weddings and are usually combined with sausage, or meat and saffron. Traditionally they were made from semolina flour and water and hand rolled into long strips of dough, then shaped into cubes and crushed against a straw basket (a ciuliri or straw sieve) to make the textured stripes. They were meant to resemble vitellini, ( the Italian translation of Malloreddus ) meaning small calves. As you can see in the photo above, they do look a lot like gnocchi, the striped pattern designed to hold a good sauce

This vegetarian dish combines shredded silverbeet (chard) with a little gorgonzola dolce, thin cream and toasted walnuts to create a wholesome dish. The recipe is deliberately imprecise. Combine the ingredients listed to suit your taste, keeping a fine balance as you go. This dish is an Almost Italian original and one inspired by the return of chard to my garden.

Gnocchetti Sardi con Bietola, Gorgonzola e Noci/ Sardinian gnocchi with Silverbeet, Gorgonzola and Walnuts

Ingredients in sequence of use.

  • 100 gr pasta Gnocchetti Sardi per person
  • salt
  • EV olive oil
  • one garlic clove
  • some small silverbeet leaves, finely shredded
  • a small chunk of gorgonzola dolce, {DOP is you can find it/flash but so good}
  • some fresh walnuts, toasted in oven, then chopped into small pieces.
  • pouring cream
  • ground black pepper
  • Parmigiano cheese shavings for serving, optional.

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Meanwhile in a wide and deep frying pan, heat the olive oil and gently saute the garlic clove. Remove the clove after it has flavoured the oil. Add the shredded silverbeet and toss around for a minute or so until wilted. Tear the gorgonzola into small clumps and add to the pan. As it begins to melt, add some pouring cream to the pan and a few grinds of black pepper. Don’t swamp the dish with cream. Reduce the cream and cheese mixture a little. When the pasta is ready, drain it then add to the pan, tossing through the sauce. Add the nuts, toss once more. Serve with shaved parmigiano.

About draining pasta. I rarely drain pasta in a colander over a sink, preferring to keep a small amount of residual pasta water to add to the secondary cooking which happens in a deep wide frying pan. With long pasta shapes, I lift them from the boiling pot to the pan with tongs or a claw pasta lifter: with short shapes I scoop them out with a wire sieve and shake a little. In this way, a small amount of the starchy, salty water helps to loosen the sauce.

Last weeks pasta of the week: Ditalini con Cacio e Uova

20 thoughts on “Gnocchetti Sardi. Pasta of the week number 2.”

  1. In some ways I am old-fashioned 🙂 ! My favourite recipes are printed or hand-written and stored in files on the kitchen shelf. Have just written ‘Fran’s pastas’ on a new one – this will be fun!! Digitalini I knew, gnocchetti has to be tracked down. In present-day foodie Australia this should not be too difficult ! I do like the shape and gorgonzola and walnuts are calling . . .

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    1. Oh how nice is that, my own pasta card. De Cecco make a nice version of Gnocchetti Sardi. The Barilla brand is best avoided unless desperate. The Big two supermarkets stock appalling pastas. I am sure you have many other outlets to choose from up there.

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  2. Walnuts and blue cheese are a fabulous combination. It occurred to me that people who would otherwise say they don’t like blue cheese would perhaps be ok with the dolce and the cream would smooth the taste even more. Your posts always get my cooking mojo going, Francesca. This morning Autumn just managed to curl some fingers around the door but summer up here is notoriously bad tempered and may yet slam the door on those fingers. It’s also wet today so i have bought a large bunch of silverbeet for soup. We’re in the throes of packing our house away and preparing to move, but the kitchen and books will be the last things to be swept into boxes.

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    1. Are you moving for good, shifting states or downsizing Jan? It;s a hard thing to do- even contemplating it, which I must begin to address, makes me feel stressed. Good luck with that and I hope the Autumn soup making restores you along the way- if summer doesn’t come sliding back in.

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  3. Yum – anything with gorgonzola dolce is fabulous plus more irresistible ingredients of walnuts and greens. Another wonderful pasta dish from Almost Italian. Back in the UK, one of our local restaurants is run by a Sardinian chief; malloreddus and fregula are always on the menu and we love anything he makes with them. Here in Greece, we get a Cretan pasta that is a similar shaped pasta to malloreddus called skioufichtes (although no ridges and made without eggs). Will definitely give this one a try with my Cretan pasta.

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    1. it is called “pasta industriale” by the Italians I know. It tastes stodgy and doesn’t hold its bite. Its marketed as an Italian brand but appeals to an international buyer who may jot know much about pasta. And many other reasons….

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        1. I invariably find De Cecco brand the best pasta and it;s not boutique or ‘artisan’ pasta. I notice many chefs prefer this one too. It retails at about 2.99 or a little less a packet ( 500g) around Melbourne’s large continental delis- the Mediterranean wholesalers in Brunswick, Gervasi IGA in Brunswick, or at Psarakos in Bundoora and Preston. But these are all in Victoria Beck- and I’m trying to recall where you live? Brisbane comes to mind. There must be a good large Italian or ‘continental’ deli in an older suburb up your way?

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