Thursday, April 19, 2007

Presto Pasta Night #8

With Ruth right in the middle of a move, I'm sure finding time to do anything is one of the more difficult tasks. So for this week's Presto Pasta Night I thought I'd do another "lighter" style of pasta that's also pretty quick to put together.

I'll be using a special pasta from Sardinia called Malloreddus or Gnocchetti (Gnocchi) Sardi


When you see the word gnocchi you probably initially think of the typical potato variety. These are a pasta made from durum wheat and saffron and they are rolled to form these tiny ridged shapes.

In Sardinia, you would most likely have these served with a simple tomato based sauce and Pecorino - Pecorino as it's the cheese of the region. Since I'm not Sardinian and don't want to receive hate mail for messing up their classic dish, I'll be doing them my own way.

With saffron in the pasta itself I'll be introducing some more into my sauce along with the equally luxurious taste of fresh asparagus. Not to tempt fate too much, I've also used Pecorino instead of my usual Parmigiano-Reggiano.


Gnocchi Sardi with Asparagus and Saffron
[For 2]

Gnocchi Sardi, fresh or dried
1 red onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
10 asparagus spears, medium thickness
pinch of saffron strands - added to a little boiling water and left to seep for about 1 hour
freshly ground salt and pepper
freshly grated Pecorino Cheese

Prepare the asparagus:
Remove the woody ends and discard. Slice the tips at an angle and put to one side. Slice the remaining stalks at an angle into even sized slices - you want the slices to be of a similar size to the pasta.

Toss the asparagus tips into the pasta pot as you're cooking the pasta - they'll only need about a minute just to remove the rawness. Drain and set aside.

Heat a little olive oil and a knob of butter into a saucepan - when the butter has dissolved and started to sizzle add the onion and garlic and sauté gently over a low flame. When the onion has softened and started to colour add the sliced asparagus stalks, stir well and allow this soften also.

Add a small handful of grated pecorino and the saffron liquid and saffron strands to the pan - stir this well and allow it to come back to temperature and the liquid to reduce. Add in the asparagus tips along with the drained cooked pasta.

Cook this for about a minute, stirring frequently so that the Gnocchi Sardi are well coated. Season with freshly ground salt and black pepper and another grating of pecorino.

If you like you could add cream - but do this at the stage you add the saffron and it's liquid to the pan.

Serve the Gnocchi Sardi in bowls and top with some more grated pecorino.


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  1. oh this looks delish. wanted to make ravioli tonight but those gnocchettis look so cute - i might have to change my plans. i was laughing out loud about the "hate mail" remark. whenever i say something about pasta on the radio i get - at least - a bucket full of letters.

  2. Your pasta dishes are always packed with delicious flavors, Haalo - wonderful!

    I might stop by to get some asparagus on the way home. ;)

  3. Looks yummy! I'll definately be trying that recipe out in a few weeks when its british asparagus season. Thanks for the recipe!

  4. Haalo, what a beautiful looking dish. It says "Sunshine" and "Spring". Thanks so much for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights.

  5. What a lovely combination of flavours and wonderful choice of pasta. Such delicious photos too!

  6. Thanks Myriam - I can just imagine the letters you get - every Italian believes with a passion that how they do it is the only way and the best way, I know I'll never get my mother to change her ways but then again, her way is the best ;)

    Thanks Patricia - the aspargus works well with this pasta as it has quite an usually bite.

    Thanks Caty - love the start of aspargus season, it's a great time of year.

    Thanks Ruth - I was so eager to post that I suffered a brain fade and have called this nine and not eight - doh!

    Thanks Truffle - glad you like it, it's a pretty pasta.

  7. This dish looks fabulously yummy and scumptious to please! I love you picture...

  8. Thank you so much Rosa!

  9. AnonymousJune 02, 2008

    Actually, I had Gnocchi Sardi with Asparagus and Saffron last week in Oliena. It was the best pasta dish on our entire trip to Sardinia - you made me so happy to share it here. Thank you so much!


  10. Thanks Micha - wow, that is a surprise!


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