I hope you’re having a great Easter weekend. We are spending the weekend at home, cleaning, toilet training and cooking. On Good Friday I decided to was a great opportunity to make fresh pasta, while I had a couple of grandparents home to watch my tot. I love making pasta, but its something I don’t do often. However, recently I was catching up on Gastropod episodes (my favourite podcast channel) and I listened to Remembrance of Things Pasta: A Saucy Tale. This really got me yearning to make homemade pasta.
So I finally got out the handwritten Italian recipes that I learned while studying in Milan. As part of our Food and Culture course at the university, we had about five cooking lessons that taught us how to make regional dishes. We actually had to write the recipes in Italian, while we watched and help the chef making the dishes. So with a little help from my Italian dictionary, I refreshed my memory on some of those delicious and more unusual dishes we made.
One of the dishes I prepared was Culurgiones Campidanese. This regional Sardinia filled pasta, typically containing potatoes, pecorino cheese, casu ‘e fitta (Sardinian cheese), mint and pepper, but it varies from town to town. It is served with a tomato sauce or butter and sage and can also be grilled or fried. The town of Ulassai (Ogliastra, Sardinia), until the 1960s, only prepared this filled pasta on the day of the dead (sa di e ir mortos). Other towns throughout Oglisstra and Barbagia regions also served this dish for special occasions, such as giving thanks at the end of a wheat harvest and to honour their ancestors. The culurgiones is a symbol of esteem, respect and friendship.
The recipe that we made at the university didn’t contain cheese, possibly because some of us were dairy free. Since I’m a big lover of Pecorino cheese (a hard sheep cheese), next time I would add it for a bit more flavour. The culurgiones were filled with potato, mint saffron and black pepper. So I have shared my translated and hopefully accurate account of this recipe for you today.
For the shape of this pasta, I consulted this Youtube video. I’m not sure I nailed the shape but I haven’t had as much practice as these ladies.
This recipe for fresh pasta was also taught to us by the chef in Italy. We also used an electric mixing bowl with the pasta attachment in class. It was very quick and easy this way. You can always make this by hand if you prefer. This recipe also makes a huge batch, so if you have extra and want to keep it until the next day, make sure you double wrap it before placing in the fridge.
Fresh Egg Pasta dough
(vegetarian, nut free, dairy free)
1 kg Italian 00 flour or organic plain flour
400ml tepid water
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
- Attach the dough hook to your KitchenAid mixing bowl (or other).
- Place the flour, eggs, tepid water and sea salt in the mixing bowl.
- Turn on the mixing bowl to a lower setting of between 2-4 and mix until a dough ball is formed.
- Cover the dough ball with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 30 minutes before using.
Here is my recipe for Culurgionis Campidanese. From here you can just work by hand solely by hand or can utilise a pasta maker to make pasta sheets like I did. Although these are delicious, they are extremely heavy to eat, so you probably don’t wait to eat a huge bowl of this on its own. For this reason, I can see why it is only consumed on special days. My favourite thing about this dish is the unusual flavour of the mint, which seems odd to eat with pasta. I didn’t make my sauce from scratch. Instead, I used Don Antonio Sugo alla Toscana. It is an Italian important that I have seen in many deli and bought recently when it was on sale. This sauce is amazing, it seriously tastes like someones nonna made it. I’ll definitely be using this sauce again.
(vegetarian, nut free, dairy free)
half portion of fresh pasta dough (above) and extra flour
500 g potatoes (about 4 medium sized)
1/2 cup packed diced mint leaves
big pinch saffron threads
1 egg yolk
black pepper and sea salt to taste
homemade or store-bought tomato sauce (I used one bottle of Don Antonio Sugo alla Toscana)
- Place potatoes in water and bring to the boil. You can leave the skin on or you can boil them peeled as I did. While this is cooking you can start preparing your pasta sheets and your pasta sauce (step 4 & 9)
- Once the potatoes are soft enough to get a fork through, peel (if you haven’t already) and mash. Use a potato ricer if you have one on hand.
- Allow potato mash to cool before adding to a mixing bowl and combining mint leaves, saffron, egg yolk, salt and pepper.
- Roll out your pasta sheets, with a lasagna attachment to your mixer or with a rolling pin. Make sure they aren’t too thick but can hold the filling.
- Use a glass to cut out circles in the dough and remove excess dough.
- Place a walnut size amount of potato mash and then fold the circle of dough in half and close the ends by pinching the dough (see video above for a better description).
- Once you have made all of your culurgionis, and placed them in a tray and dusted them in flour so they don’t stick together or to the tray, then bring a big pot of salted water to the boil.
- Boil the culurgionis until they the pasta dough is cooked and no longer doughy. This may a few minutes after they have risen to the surface of the water, depending on how thick the dough is.
- Heat your pasta sauce in a pan. Once the culurgionis are ready, add them to the hot sauce in the pan to coat and serve immediately.
Since I only needed half of the pasta dough for the Culurgionis Campidanese, I decided to make a pappardelle pasta with an Amatriciana Sauce. This is not a typical pairing, but the sauce works with this shape and it’s easy to prepare. Yes, I know its Good Friday and bacon isn’t allowed, but we aren’t really religious and I had promised to make this dish days before. I’m not a big lover of bacon, but occasionally I do free range nitrate free bacon and use it sparingly in recipes. If your vegan, I have previously made a veganised version of this recipe, Vegan bucatini all’amatriciana, with tempeh pancetta.
half portion of pasta dough (recipe above)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
150-170 good quality bacon or pancetta
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes
1 can diced tomatoes
sea salt and black pepper to taste
Pecorino cheese to serve
- To prepare the pasta, roll it out into lasagne sheets and then cut by hand using a pasta cutter or a sharp knife. Pappardelle should be at least 2-3 cm thick. Dust with plenty of flour, so that it doesn’t stick together on a tray before cooking
- Heat olive oil in a large pan, then add the bacon or pancetta. Saute for at least 5 minutes before adding the onion. Allow the onion to go translucent.
- Add the garlic, chilli flakes and diced tomatoes.
- Simmer the sauce for about 15minutes. If the sauce gets to try to add some pasta water to thin it a little.
- If you haven’t already, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and then cook pasta until its tender. This should take only a few minutes.
- Add the pasta to the hot sauce and coat before serving.
- Top with plenty of grated pecorino cheese.
You can’t have Easter without Hot Cross Buns. A vegan bakery, down the road from me, Veganyumm, was selling these gorgeous things yesterday. I sent my mum to get a dozen on her way over and despite the long line, she managed to get some. I was not sure how they were going to be since I have tried hot cross buns from health food shops before and they were really disappointing. These babies were so good. They were nice and fluffy, not too sweet and the perfect afternoon tea treat.
I hope you like my pasta recipes and hope to bring you more of my recipes from my semester abroad soon.