This recipe is by home cook Gaia for the book, Pasta Grannies, edited by Vicky Bennison.
A traditional dish of Sardinia, culurgiones are made on special occasions, like the end of harvest and the Day of the Dead (1 November), and they are given to others as a symbol of friendship.
- 2 tsp salt
- 450-500 ml (15-17 fl oz/2 cups) water
- 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) finely ground semolina flour
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 3-4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) passata (sieved tomatoes)
- 20 g (¾ oz) fresh basil leaves, plus extra to serve
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) potatoes
- 100 g (3½ oz) aged pecorino, finely grated
- 200 g (7 oz) fresh pecorino, finely grated
- 200 g (7 oz) fresh soft goat's cheese
- 4 tbsp freshly chopped mint
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 cloves garlic, minced to a pulp with a pinch of salt
- 4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pinch powdered saffron (optional)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
1. To make the pasta, dissolve the salt in the water then mix it together with the flour and oil. Knead for five minutes to form a dough that is silky and not sticky to the touch. It won’t have the soft pillowy feel of egg-based pasta dough, but it will feel nice and plastic – and you can use it immediately, there’s no need to leave it to rest. If you knead the dough for longer, it will develop some elasticity and then you will have to let it rest for 20 minutes or so.
Not everyone puts oil into the dough, but for Massimina it was very important.
2. To make the tomato sauce, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
3. Add passata, whole basil leaves and salt. Leave the mixture to simmer for 30 minutes and remove the basil at the end of cooking.
4. While the sauce is cooking, roll out the pasta dough to about 2 mm thick. Use a cookie cutter to make circles in the dough, 8 cm (3 in) in diameter. Keep them covered with just-damp tea towels to stop them from drying out.
5. To make the filling, peel, quarter and boil the potatoes. When cooked, after 15 minutes or so, drain them thoroughly, then mash. Once the potatoes have cooled to lukewarm, thoroughly mix all the filling ingredients together.
6. To make the culurgiones, add a walnut-sized dollop into the centre of each pasta circle. Cup one in your left hand (if you are right handed) and 'sew' the seam across the top, starting at one end of the half-moon with the tips of your thumb and forefinger of your other hand. It is an alternate pleating motion, bringing one side over the other. Don't worry if some filling creeps out towards the end of the process either – it means you have created plump culurgiones.
7. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the culurgiones in batches. Once they bob to the top – which will take around 5 minutes – you can scoop them out and transfer them to serving bowls. Dress with tomato sauce and basil leaves and serve immediately.
• This recipe makes about 50 culurgiones – enough for 10 people if they are not going to have a second course. They freeze well though – cook them straight from frozen – and you can also halve the quantities if you wish.
Recipe from Pasta Grannies by Vicky Bennison (Hardie Grant, RRP $39.99)