• Gnocchetti Sardi with pork & tomato sauce

    Sardinian pasta w pork & tomato sauce

    There it was, lonely as a cloud but about to wander into my clutch of purchases, a last packet of Sardinian pasta.

    The cute little ribbed and furled shapes, some of varying shades of yellow from saffron infusion, looked very enticing and never has there been a happier, spontaneous decision.

    In a minor variation on a basic tomato sauce added a slug or two of Montana Reserve Pinot to the sauté of onion and garlic. Reducing the red wine and onion mixture down to a syrupy stage it gives the sauce a richly robust note. The rest of the bottle was a brilliant match with the pasta.

    Really ripe garden tomatoes give the sweetest results but tinned Italian tomatoes out of season are also OK. Small pieces of dry salami cooked with the pork in the tomato sauce is traditional but I used chorizo sausage which happened to be on hand. The choice is yours.

    The gnocchetti was fantastic. Not only did it look very pretty, being of various hues of yellow, but the tiny ribs caught all the tasty flavours of the sauce, especially as the pasta was tossed with the cheese and sauce at the same time. This helps to bind the sauce to the pasta. It’s such great pasta that it survives reheating without morphing into gluggy stodge. In fact it hardly morphed at all. Gnocchetti Sardi allo Zafferano is imported by Melbourne-based Enoteca Sileno. They supply food stores all around the country but if you have trouble sourcing the pasta in your area Enoteco Sileno do mail order. Email retail@enoteca.com.au or Phone 03 9389 7009.

    The Recipe

    Gnocchetti Sardi with pork and tomato sauce

    For the tomato sauce:
    2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    1 medium onion, very finely chopped
    3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    100ml good red wine
    5 large very ripe red tomatoes, skinned (plunge them into boiling water for 30 secs) and chopped
    2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
    freshly grated pepper & salt flakes to taste
    ½ tsp sugar
    Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and sauté slowly for about 10 minutes until soft and just coloured. Add the red wine and let bubble away until reduced by half. Add the chopped tomatoes, thyme, pepper, salt and sugar. Simmer gently for 15 minutes, uncovered. Check for seasoning. You can make this sauce ahead.

    To complete the dish:
    2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
    700g pork Scotch (shoulder), cut into small cubes
    150g dried salami or chorizo sausage cut into small strips
    quantity of tomato sauce, see above
    500g Gnocchetti Sardi allo Zafferano, or other small, ribbed pasta
    4 tbsp freshly grated Pecorino Romano (hard Italian grating cheese) or Grana Padano
    3 tbsp Italian parsley, finely chopped

    In a large non-stick frypan heat the olive oil and brown the pork cubes. Add the strips of chorizo sausage and brown. Add the recipe quantity of tomato sauce to the frypan. Simmer gently, covered, for 12-15 minutes. Add a little water if it becomes too thick but it should not be runny.
    Meanwhile cook the pasta in plenty of well salted water according to the packet – in this case 15 minutes. Drain well and place back in the large pan. Immediately add the pork and tomato sauce, cheese and parsley. Toss well to combine all the flavours and serve immediately.