Sardinian Seadas: the origins of this ancient dessert
If you are planning a vacation in Sardinia, to be immersed in the beauty of Cagliari and it’s surrounding areas, between your itineraries discovering the naturalistic, historical and archeological treasures and a jump in the marvelous Sardinian sea you can’t miss out on the regional cuisine and Sardinian seadas.
The Sardinian seadas are made with semolina, cheese, and honey, they are a symbolic dish of the Sardinian gastronomical tradition. This Sardinian dessert is pronounced seada, sebada or sevada, when counting just one, depending on the area, it resembles a small raviolo – stuffed pasta, because of the round shape and the typical scalloped edge.
This famous sweet, stuffed with cheese, was originally a dish of humble cuisine in the areas between Campidano, Barbagia, Ogliastra, Logudoro, Gallura and Baronie, all areas with pastoral tradition. The seada was not served at the end of a meal, it was usually a nutrient main dish prepared by women for their husbands when they returned from the transhumance. Some recipes with cheese and honey are also mentioned in De agricultura by Cato and in the Satyricon by Petronius.
There are many theories to establish the etymology of the name of this much adored Italian dessert. It’s important to remember that in 1479, after the Aragonese period, when Sardinia was under Spanish domain and was then, according to some sources, that the name of this dish originated. In fact it would seem the name comes from cedar, cebana in past participatory, which among the possible translations into Italian means “cibare” or “alimentare” meaning to “feed”.
Another theory connects seada with the Latin expression sebum, referring to the habit of using lard, called su seu in Sardinina, one of the ingredients necessary for the preparation of the dish.
A third theory includes the idea of this famous Sardinian dish to owe its name to Hordeum vulgare, a cereal know in a more simple manner as cebada, already present in Sardinia since the Paleolithic age as also were spelt and oats, cultivated in the island before the nuragic civilization and the ancient Romans.
Let’s now discover together the recipe to prepare perfect Sardinian seadas.
Sardinina seadas: a simple recipe for an extraordinary dessert
The secret to the perfect Sardinian seadas is the classical Sardinian pastry named violata or violada and is prepared with semolina and lard or semolina and olive oil.
Similar to dough brise, pasta violata is used to prepare various desserts and salty dishes typical of the island, including pistiddi, Panada, casadinas, pardalus, seadas and many more.
There aren’t many ingredients in the recipe and the procedure is simple:
- 500 g durum wheat flour
- 100 g lard (or extra virgin olive oil)
- 1 pinch of salt
To make a homogenous pastry, soft and smooth, sprinkle the flour on a wooden board, add the lard cut into cubes with a pinch of salt and begin to work the pastry with your hands adding some water at a time. The result will be a compact and smooth ball which will need to rest for 30 minutes.
As we wait for the pasta violata to be ready we can prepare the stuffing for the seadas made with cheese, mostly from sheep with the aroma of grated lemon rind, diluted with a little water over a medium heat and continuously stirred for 10 minutes. Here are the quantities:
- 500 g fresh sheep cheese
- Lemon rind
- 70 g of water
When the cheese is ready it’s advised to lay it out on a board with a spatula, let it cool and make discs with a diameter of more or less 10-12 cm and 8mm thick.
Once the stuffing has been prepared, it will be the moment for rolling out the pastry, by hand or using a pasta machine, electric or with a handle.
It must be about 3 mm thick, then rest the cheese disks with lemon rind, quite distant from one another, which will be then covered with another layer of pastry.
After closing the pastry around the cheese with an undulated pastry ring with a diameter of more or less 10 cm, you can cut out the seadas which need to be cooked in an abundant quantity of sun-flour oil for a few minutes and then covered with hot arbutus or chestnut honey.
Sardinian Seadas need to be eaten fresh, within one or two days maximum, they can be frozen before being cooked. There is another version with fresh cheese which is roughly grated and a sprinkle of lemon rind.
The perfect combination of this dish is with white wines from the island, sweet and aromatic like the Vermentino Della Sardegna, the Vernaccia di Oristano, the Malvasia di Bosa and the Moscato di Sardegna.