The Sardinian Panada is a variant of pizza
Cooked for the first time during the Bronze Age, the Sardinian Panada is one of the typical dishes of Sardinia.
Pizza is one of the symbols of the Italian culture, famous all over the world. Certainly the Neapolitan variation is the most recognized and appreciated one. However, there are other delicious variations, different in shape, taste and color. One of these is the Sardinian Panada, Sa Panada in local dialect. Although very ancient, the Sardinian Panada recipe has undergone several changes over time. Despite this, it is a symbol of Sardinia still today. So, let’s discover its history and the best recipes.
Sardinian Panada: origin and history
During the Bronze Age, the Nuragic civilization appeared in Sardinia. This civilization was the result of the gradual evolution of pre-existing cultures widespread on the island since the Neolithic. The most evident traces of this past are the dolmens, menhirs and domus de janas and other cultural elements from the metal age. Among the many legacies of that culturally flourishing period is also the Panada.
The first evidence relating to this dish dates back exactly to the Nuragic civilization. At the time, it looked like a bowl of dough stuffed with raisins and lamb meat. However, some recipes included eel meat. In any case, it was a typical food of the shepherds and for a long time it remained the basis of their diet.
Incredibly, the term Panada appeared only from the 15th century, when the recipe underwent major changes. The etymology probably derives from the Spanish invasion of those years and refers precisely to the Spanish Empanada.
The Spaniards loved that pizza, but changed its name, shape and ingredients. For example, instead of meat, they introduced fish and legumes. The Sardinian population, however, did not particularly appreciate the Spanish modifications. Thus, they returned to the original recipe, with the addition of an embroidery on the dough, called Sa Considura. The Sardinian Panada then became a dish to eat on holidays or to offer to important people.
The recipes of the Sardinian Panada vary from town to town
The traditional recipe of the Sardinian Panada varies from town to town. The most popular variations are those of Assemini, Oschiri and Cuglieri. Among these, the most famous is the Sa Panada of Assemini, a town a few kilometers away from Cagliari. The Sa Panada of Assemini recently entered the National List of Traditional Products, a certification that attests the quality and the origin of the town’s specialty.
The first festival of Sa Panada dates back to 1987 and it is still held on the first weekend of September. The organization of a festival was fundamental in the path towards entering the List.
Roberto Pili, doctor and member of the World Longevity Community Association, also confirms the quality of this tasty dish. He once said: “Sa Panada, which can be considered a cultural-anthropological asset, responds to the nutritional needs of a complete meal. It is a real treasure of the Sardinian-Mediterranean diet. A successful synthesis of taste and health”.
Which are the main features of the Sa Panada of Assemini? It looks like a round stuffed pie. In a certain way it resemble a pressure cooker made of dough. The edges are 5 to 10 centimeters high and the filling is initially raw. The latter can be eels or lamb meat with potatoes or artichokes, dried tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil. But the filling can vary a lot, also according to seasonality. For example, during springtime fava beans and peas are common.
Nowadays, for the preparation of the Panada each pasta factory uses a modern wood-fired pizza oven. Here are all the steps to prepare the Panada:
- first of all, create the base by placing the dough inside a baking pan,
- raise the edges of the dough and add oil, salt, pepper, parsley or garlic to it,
- fill with a layer of potatoes or vegetables, eel or lamb meat,
- close the pie with a lid of dough
Finally, bake the Sardinian Panada at 180/190 degrees for at least 90 minutes. After cooking, people usually spread a veil of pork lard on the lid to make it shine. The best way to enjoy the Panada is with a glass of good wine, such as Vermentino di Gallura.
Do you want to come to Sardinia and spend a holiday between culture and gastronomic delights? Book a stay at Palazzo Doglio in Cagliari