Sardinian cuisine: various gastronomic traditions of the island
Sardinian recipes have ancient origins and are rooted in pastoral, peasant and seafaring traditions.
Sardinian cuisine makes use of simple ingredients and recipes that come from the encounter of different Mediterranean cultures, marking the history of the island surrounded by one of the most beautiful seas in the world and the scents of wild and unspoiled nature.
A quotation from William Shakespeare’s Henry IV reads: “Good food and good wine, is heaven on earth”. Dishes with an intense flavour and intoxicating fragrances accompanied by a good glass of Cannonau gives shape to the paradise Sardinia is.
Traditional Sardinian recipes demonstrate the authenticity of the island, with the combination of peasant and pastoral traditions, without forgetting dishes that bring to the table the fragrances of the beautiful sea surrounding the ancient Ichnusa.
Rich, genuine and diverse, Sardinian cuisine is considered part of the Mediterranean diet, a nutritional model proclaimed in 2010 by UNESCO among the oral and intangible heritage of humanity. It ranges from roasted meat to bread, from cheese to seafood, also the wines and spirits.
Let’s find out which are the ten most representative dishes of Sardinian cuisine.
Sardinian cuisine: 10 dishes that describe the taste of tradition
Sardinian cuisine is the meeting point between memory, history, culture and tradition. Here are the ten specialities of Sardinian cuisine that you must taste at least once in your life:
- Seadas: the cake made in the areas between Campidano, Barbagia, Ogliastra, Logudoro, Gallura and Baronie, is a thin disc of pasta violata ( a Sardinian way of making dough prepared with semolina and lard or semolina and olive oil) which contains a filling of fresh pecorino cheese flavoured with lemon. The seadas are cooked in abundant sunflower oil for a couple of minutes and then covered with some warm strawberry tree or chestnut honey.
- Pane carasau: also known as pane carasatu, pane carasadu, pane fine, pane ‘e fresa or pane Fatu in fresa, is a thin and crunchy disc-shaped bread that can be stored for a long time. The name comes from the Sardinian verb carasare, which means toasting, and outside the island, its called “music paper” because the crunchiness of carasau makes chewing particularly noisy. The ingredients are few and simple: yeast, salt, water and durum wheat semolina. The various stages of baking, from the preparation of the dough to baking in the oven, take the name of Sa Cotta or Sa Hotta in Sardinian.
- Culurgiones: a typical dish of the subregion Barbaricina di Ogliastra, culurgiones are a stuffed pasta with a characteristic angular closure on both sides. They are prepared with durum wheat semolina and have a potato, cheese and mint filling that can change depending on the area. They are cooked in boiling water and seasoned with olive oil or with tomato sauce and pecorino cheese.
- Gallura soup: also called suppa cuata, is a typical recipe from Gallura, a historical and geographical subregion in the north. It is prepared by preparing several layers of stale bread in a pan moistened with sheep meat broth and seasoned with pecorino cheese and spices such as mint, parsley, cinnamon, nutmeg and herbs. Similar in appearance to lasagna, the Gallura soup is baked in the hoven.
- Malloreddus: is a type of elongated durum wheat semolina paste traditionally flavoured with saffron. They are generally seasoned in the Campidanese way i.e. with sausage sauce, but among the typical recipes, there is the variant with casu furriau which is with melted cheese. In Sassari they are called cigiones, in Nuorese cravaos and in the rest of Italy Sardinian gnocchetti.
- Frègula: also known as fregula, fregua, Succu, cascà or pistitzone, depending on the area of the island, and erroneously Italianized with the name of fregula, is a type of pasta that at first glance resembles couscous. The word frègula comes from the Latin ferculum, which means crumb, referring to the size of the pasta, similar to amber coloured grains. Available in various sizes, the frègula is produced by “rolling” the semolina into a large earthenware basin and roasted in the oven.
- Panada: is a savoury cake, similar to the Peruvian or Argentine empanada, consisting of a sheath of pasta violata stuffed with different ingredients depending on the area. The panada par excellence is that of eels, widespread especially in the area of Campidano, where in the past fishing was an activity widely practised because of the proximity of Santa Gilla lagoon. Today, the most common variant is with lamb, while the vegetarian panadas contain peas, artichokes or broad beans.
- Porceddu: among the most famous main courses of the island’s gastronomical traditions. The porceddu also called porcheddu and Italianized with the name of porcetto, is the suckling pig roasted on a spit and seasoned with saffron, black pepper or nutmeg, myrtle, thyme and mint. According to some, the tradition of porceddu dates back to the Spanish rule and was originally consumed by Sardinian shepherds exclusively during Easter because the pig was an important food resource for families.
- Papassinu: also known as papassina or papassino and common especially in central-south Sardinia, are sweets that in the past were prepared for All Saints’ Day, but today you can find them in any bakery and supermarket at any time of the year. Papassinus are made with a mixture of pastry and raisins, almonds, walnuts, lemon or grated orange peel, spices and honey, and baked in the oven at a temperature of 200 degrees. The name comes from the word papassa that in Sardinian means sultana grape, an ingredient that unites the many recipes of a dessert prepared with different ingredients according to the area.
- Pàrdulas: typical Campidano Easter cake, called in Italian formagella, the pàrdulas are small cakes made of a thin sheet of pastry made of lard, semolina and water and with a filling of ricotta or cheese. Depending on the area, there are sweet and salty versions with an orange, lemon or saffron aroma. The pàrdulas have a dome-like appearance, are baked in the oven and then covered with powdered sugar.