If you’re lucky enough to have visited the island of Sardegna (or Sardinia as Americans know it), I’m guessing that you’ve sipped plenty of wines of Carignano, or Carignan. You may have also indulged in a plate of homemade Malloreddus pasta, also known as Sardinian gnocchi. Although I haven’t had my passport stamped with an entry for Sardinia yet, I have had the opportunity to enjoy a lovely Carignan, Agricola Punica Montessu Isola dei Nuraghi 2018 along with a luscious traditional dish of Malloreddus with Sardinian Sausage Ragu.

A few weeks ago, I was asked if I’d like to explore Sardinia with an authentic pasta recipe from QB Cucina’s website, test out my choice of a complimentary pasta tool or kitchenware item (also from QB Cucina), and pop the cork of an Italian wine. Yes, please! Apparently, the word is out that I love Italian wine and food… (cue my wink).

After giving the selections a hard look, I decided to make the Malloreddus Pasta with Sausage Ragu for pairing with Carignan in order to keep the meal Sardinia-centric. For a lovely presentation, I opted for two Italian phrase enamel bowls of which any Nonna would approve! On one of the bowls is written Ridi ridic he la mamma ha fatto gli gnocchi meaning “Go ahead, keep laughing” or “laugh, laugh, because mom made gnocchi…” The other has written L’amore passa, la fame no meaning “love fades, hunger doesn’t.” Be sure to check out the QB Cucina website here for delicious recipes, modern and traditional kitchenware, cooking tools, and more.

pasta plate
Photo: Cindy Rynning

Agricola Punica Barrua Bottle ImageAdmittedly, I opened the bottle of Agricola Punica Montessu Isola de Nuraghi 2018 ($35) while I was making the ragu. Montessu is from Sulcis Iglesiente, a warm, sun-drenched region in the southwest of Sardinia. In fact, the area is known for cultivating premium Carignan, a variety that originated in Spain. The blend, dominated by Carignan and aged for 15 months in French oak, offered vibrant aromas of cherries, red berries, rich cranberries, juicy plums, and fresh herbs. On the palate, I found blackberries, dark plums, black pepper, and notes of rosemary. Framed with soft tannic structure and bright acidity, this exceptionally balanced wine was textured and lush – the velvet-like finish lingered…

Ahhh, the Malloreddus pasta! Perhaps one of Sardinia’s signature dishes, Malloreddus are small, ridged pasta nuggets – not unlike gnocchi. According to the experts, the traditional shape is formed by rolling one side of the nuggets along a Sardinian wicker basket, although some may use a gnocchi board. If all else fails, use the tines of a fork! The ridges, by the way, are important because they “catch and trap” the thick sauce. If you prefer not to try your hand at making malloreddus, use any pasta that could serve the same purpose – orecchiette may be a good choice. The Sardinia Sausage Ragu is similar to Bolognese ragu with its savory, rich flavors. (If you prefer not to use sausage due to its high fat content, consider high quality ground beef.) For the Malloredus and Sardinia Sausage Ragu recipe, click here.

Fat, heat, spice, and an abundance of flavor in the Malloreddus Pasta with Sausage Ragu were mouthwatering and ultra-satisfying – I can’t wait to make this dish again. Paired with the elegant and lush Agricola Punica Montessu Isola de Nuraghi 2018, I was transported to the island of Sardinia. Nonna would approve.

Making Malloreddus Pasta
Making Malloreddus Pasta. Photo: George Wesley & Bonita Dannells, Flickr

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