SARDINIA MARE - step by step instructions

Sardinia is a land of contrasts; a vast and beautiful shoreline, azure waters garnished with cliffs laden with wild juniper married with a hilly and arid inland. Their food too, is a marriage of Italian flavours – particularly the Genovese, who regularly invaded - with those of other climes; a strong Catalan influence from their colonies on the island, a touch of the Arab flavours so common in Sicily, a hint of Corsica, grazing the island’s northern tip. It is a chaotic cuisine, harmonised solely by a fantastical deliciousness that runs through it all. It is unique, and exceptional. Here we focus on the coast, with octopus from the pristine seas, gurnard matched with shellfish and fregola, and finish with pardulas aromatic with outstanding sheep ricotta and saffron. It is the taste of an exotic and wonderful place.

Octopus, roast tomato, chickpea, celery & basil salad

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Fregola with gurnard, clams & mussels

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Pardulas with mirto cream

 

For your meal you will need:

  • A bowl for dressing the octopus
  • A large saucepan with a suitable lid (or tinfoil) for the gurnard
  • A deep sided frying pan, or shallow saucepan, for the fregola
  • A tray for warming the pardulas

The detailed recipes for the dishes are below, but in essence:

  • Let the salad ingredients come to room temperature, then dress and eat
  • Decant the sauce into the pan for the gurnard, sit the fish atop, cover and cook, adding the shellfish for the last few minutes
  • Meanwhile, finish cooking the fregola with a little water
  • When both fish and fregola are ready, stir a little of the sauce through the fregola, then sit the fish atop and feast
  • Let the pardulas come to room temperature also, then warm briefly in a low oven. Pop onto plates and spoon the cream onto the side, and enjoy 

Octopus, roast tomato, chickpea, celery & basil salad

On a trip to Chia, a majestic stretch of rocky coastline at Sardinia’s southern tip, I once ate an outstanding lunch. At a fishmonger’s which also happened to serve food, nestled in a slightly industrial maritime landscape, it began with a selection of antipasti; an escabeche of dogfish, a little dish of mussels marinated with garlic and parsley, and this, best of all, a salad of octopus, fiery with chilli, garlic & vinegar, mellowed with chickpeas, celery and tomatoes. It was exquisite. Here, I give it to you.

Your pack serves two and contains:

  • Octopus, braised gently until tender but with a little bite
  • Roast datterini tomatoes, mixed with cooked chickpeas
  • A bag of Celery, in chunky slices, and basil leaves
  • A dressing of fine olive oil, wine vinegar, chilli & garlic
  • Remove all salad ingredients from the fridge half an hour before you want to eat
  • In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients together, tearing the basil leaves as you go
  • Shake the dressing to mix, then add it to the bowl and mix well again
  • Lift from the bowl and let tumble gently onto chosen plates 

Fregola with gurnard, clams & mussels

Fregola, in spite of its visual resemblance to cous-cous, is in fact a type of pasta – but not as we know it. Coarse semola is rubbed in a flat shallow dish – a scivedda – with just enough salt water to form little balls, the size of the juniper berries so common on the island. Toasted in a low oven, it gains a nutty taste and distinctive texture. Here, we serve it with a stew of fine Mediterranean fish; savoury gurnard, sweet mussels & salty clams.

Your pack serves two and contains:

  • Fregola, cooked by us
  • a whole gurnard, and a handful each of mussels & clams
  • A little chopped parsley
  • Some fine olive oil
  • A sauce made of tomato, wine & gurnard bones 

Directions:

  • Decant the sauce into a deep sided frying pan, or wide saucepan, and add 100ml water
  • Season the gurnard well with salt and sit this atop
  • Cover with a lid, then place on a high heat
  • Bring to a simmer and cook for 6-7 minutes, then add the mussels & clams and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes, until the shellfish have just begun to open.
  • Carefully lift the gurnard onto a plate and keep warm
  • Turn the heat to high, and add the fregola to the pan
  • Cook just until the fregola is hot through, stirring from time to time
  • Decant the fregola, cloams & mussels onto a serving platter, and sit the gurnard atop
  • Sprinkle with the parsley, and pour over the oil

Pardulas

These little cakes are made all over the island, and claimed by each region as their own; there are as many variations as there are towns in Sardinia – soft or firm, cakey or creamy, pardulas or casadinas. All are delicious, and particularly favoured in the Spring – an Easter treat – though they are popular year round, and unsurprisingly so; sweetened sheep ricotta made aromatic with saffron, orange & lemon zest, the lot encased in crisp pastry. A delicious treat. 

Your pack serves two and contains:

  • Two little pardulas
  • Some cream whipped with mirto

Directions:

  • Remove from the fridge at least 30 minutes before eating
  • Preheat the oven to 120C
  • Pop the pardulas onto a tray, and warm for 5-6 minutes in the oven
  • Sit on plates, and spoon the mirto cream alongside