Despite being an island, Sardinia is not just land of fishermen, but
also of breeders and farmers. The variety of activities and the diversity of
its territory, largely influenced the gastronomic traditions of this land.
Sardinian cuisine is mainly based on pasta, soups, bread, vegetables, like
artichokes and tomatoes (grown on the flat land), lamb meat, sheep, goat, pork and beef, which come
from farms located on the hills and mountains.
Grandula o Guanciale
Cured meat obtained from pork cheeks. Seasoned with spices, can be also smoked. Ageing process lasts between 30 to 60 days.
With a sweet and delicate taste, is obtained from pork fillet. Seasoned with salt, pepper and anice seeds, is left to mature for at least 60 days. Usually is served as antipasti, seasoned with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Prosciutto di Desulo
Obtained from the back legs of free range pigs, farmed on the mountains between Nuoro province and Ogliastra area. Seasoned with spices, is then left to age for at least 1 year.
Since the dawn of time, Sardinia has been a shepherds’ land. Cheeses are
one of the best known Sardinian gastronomic specialties, and their productive
methods follow ancient shepherds' traditions.
DOP Cheeses (Denomination of Protected Origin)
Probably the most ancient cheese produced on the island, historically made by shepherds in their mountain barns. Obtained from raw sheep milk, gets its name from lily flowers sculpted on ancient wooden moulds, in which the cheese was put in order to age.
The iconic Sardinian cheese, known all around the world. Made with sheep milk, can be distinguished between two kinds: dolce (sweet) or maturo (mature) depending on the ageing stage. It’s produced and consumed all around Sardinia.
Despite its name, this is a cheese of Sardinian origin and tradition. The production area regulated by law, includes the whole Sardinian territory, plus Lazio and Grosseto's province (Tuscany). Made with sheep milk has an intense smell and aroma. Most of Pecorino Romano production is devoted to the International Markets.
Other Traditional Cheeses
Medium aged raw paste soft cheese. Produced especially in Sassari area, is made with sheep milk. Distinguishable from other Pecorinos for its particularly square shape.
Kneaded-curd cheese, one of the very few Sardinian cheeses made with cow milk. This cheese is characteristic of Montiferru area (Oristano province). Very few small producers still made this cheese by hand.
A very peculiar Sardinian delicacy. Obtained with a particular process, from sheep milk. The final result is a yellow/amber creamy spread, with a strong and spicy taste.
Callu de Crabittu
Made with goat milk, the method to make this cheese follows deep roots of ancient Sardinian shepherds’ traditions. The final product is a spreadable cheese, with an intense smell and a spicy taste.
Fresh soft cheese, made with either sheep or goat milk with a strong acidic taste. Used for the preparation of traditional dishes (i.e. filling of culurjones).
Made by mixing durum wheat flour with water. The dough is styled in fine threads like hair, overlapped in 3 layers almost like a gauze. Once dried, the gauze is broken into smaller pieces and cooked in the characteristic sheep broth and cheese, typical of Nuoro area.
Similar to couscous made of tiny irregular spheres, this pasta is obtained by rubbing together durum wheat semolina with water and eggs in a terracotta recipient (sa scivedda). Can be served in a broth or dry. Often cooked in tomato sauce or with clams.
The making processes of this pasta requires excellent handicraft. Lorighittas are firstly shaped into spaghettis, then twisted like ropes and closed to form a ring. Typical from Morgongiori, a small town in the Oristano province. They used to be prepared exclusively for the All Saints bank holiday, but nowadays people have them all year round.
Also known as Sardinian gnocchetti, are made by mixing durum wheat semolina and flour. Popular all over the Island, they are originally from Campidano area, where are served with a ragout composed with tomato sauce, fresh sausages, pecorino cheese and saffron.
Characteristic bread of Campidano, but known in every village of Sardinia. Very famous are the ones made in Sanluri, town in the middle of the Campidano flat. Shaped in a squished ball, Civraxiu is made with durum wheat semolina.
This bread has a particular shape, styled with scissors and traditionally made only for bank holidays or weddings, but nowadays is eaten daily. Made from durum wheat semolina.
Definitely the most famous Sardinian bread. The production process is very long and requires many rising and cooking stages, starting with a dough of durum wheat semolina. The final result is a thin a crispy bread, often used to prepare other traditional dishes.
Ogliastra bread, requires like Carasau long rising hours and it is made with durum wheat semolina. As crispy as Carasau, but thicker. Sometimes is soften in water before being served.
Rounded flatbread obtained from durum wheat semolina. It’s full of flavours and has a golden crispy surface, which has been moisten before cooking.
In this section you will find only some of the most representative sweets of Sardinia. There are a lot of varieties linked to different territories and religious holidays.
Sardinian variant of Meringues. The dough based on egg whites whipped in snow is enriched with grated lemon peel and toasted almond grains.
Biscotto di Fonni
A sort of giant Savoiardo, from the small village of Fonni, very popular between Sardinian families. It’s a soft and fragrant biscuit, often used to make tiramisu. Best dipped in milk, coffee or tea.
Sweets from Barbagia, made of a very thin pastry folded in a flower-like shape, with a filling of honey, almonds, orange peel, sugar and saffron.
Small boat of filo pastry, filled with a sponge cake, almond paste, lemon peel and a few drops of liquor.
Traditionally, Sardinian mothers, mothers in law and godmothers of the brides, used to make this sweet just for their weddings. Generally speaking the number of hearts was proportional to the social status of the family. The filo-pastry is shaped like a heart and filled with a tasty mixture of honey, almonds and orange peel.
These are small balls of almond paste, very delicate and tasty, often flavored with myrtle liqueur.
They are wrapped like candies in the sheets of colored tissue paper.
Requires a long preparation and needs to rest before cooking for about 15-20 days. It’s made with fine semolina, water, yeast, sugar, cinnamon and lemon peel. It’s then garnished with sugar glaze. Will melt in your mouth!
Pani ‘e Saba
The main ingredient of this typical sweet is must (sapa), which is cooked with spices, quince and orange peel until it becomes a think and sweet molasses. In the mixture are then added durum wheat semolina, water, walnuts, almonds, raisins, honey, candied oranges and eggs. Garnished with colourful confetti.
A very rich biscuit with lots of ingredients: among them the raisins (papassa) from which derives its name. Usually has a diamond shape and it is garnished with sugar glaze and confetti.
This sweet is traditionally linked to Easter and it’s composed by a crispy pastry on the outside, pinched and folded, filled with a mix of ricotta or other fresh cheese, sugar, saffron and orange or lemon peel.
Spherical and crunchy biscuit with a characteristic glaze on the outside, made with sugar, water and lemon peel.
Also known as Pistoccus de Cappa, these biscuits are typical of Campidano. They look like they might have a hard texture but will crumble in your mouth. Covered with a glaze made with egg white.
The most popular sweet from Sardinia. it consists of a pastry disk, filled with fresh cheese, orange and lemon peel. It's deep fried and served hot, smothered with honey.
Between all Sardinian sweets, nougat deserves a special place. Nougat production is a very old Sardinian practice. The first document in which nougat was mentioned, dates back to 1614. In Barbagia nougat is linked to the necessity of making the most of the surrounding natural resources: mountain honey, walnuts and hazelnuts. Today the most renowned nougat production areas are the towns of Aritzo and Tonara, but in the past the practice was carried out also in other surrounding villages. People from Aritzo used to sell their products in Campidano, while people from Tonara, always very competitive with their counterparts, sold their nougats in the north of the island, near Sassari. In the old times, nougat was mixed with a big wooden shovel: a very hard job that could last up to 6 hours. The mixture needed to be constantly stirred, otherwise all the hard job could have been useless. When the honey was warm enough, egg white was added to the mixture, which worked as raising agent. The nougat maker then kept on working on the nougat, until it reached the right consistency and the typical white colour. At the very end, almonds, walnuts or hazelnuts were added to the nougat, which could be transferred into little wooden boxes. Today nougat is made with modern machineries, but the old procedure is still showed to people during fairs and festivals. (Nougat Festival– Tonara – Easter Monday 2019).
Sardinia is the leading Italian region for the production of saffron, the expensive spice also named "red gold”. The main Sardinian producing town is San Gavino Monreale, which is also my native place, where I’ve spent my infancy and adolescence. I’ve attended many times the long and fascinating preparation of saffron. In November, you can’t miss the wonderful country side, covered in tiny purple flowers! Saffron has an incredible one of a kind aroma, and can give flavour to many dishes, from pasta, mains, sweets and liquors. In 2009 the towns of San Gavino, Turri and Villanovafranca got the important DOP denomination for saffron production. If you wish to discover all the secrets about saffron, you have to come to the Saffron Festival – San Gavino – November 2019.
Bottarga is fish ovary, salted and left to dry with traditional methods.
Classic Sardinian bottarga, comes from mullet or tuna’s eggs.The two
differ in colour and taste (the one obtained from tuna is sharper).
Served as appetiser, paired with artichokes and extra virgin olive oil
or grated like cheese to season pasta (spaghetti
alla bottarga) and paired with clams.
Is often sprinkled over seafood pizzas, to enhance flavours and sapidity.
Don't miss the Bottarga Festival that takes place every year in Cabras the last weekend of August.
Olive trees mark unmistakably the landscapes around the Mediterranean
area, including the one of Sardinia. Olive trees have been cultivated on the
island, since the beginning of time. Olive oil is a fundamental feature of the
Mediterranean diet: rich of healthy proprieties, essential for the preparation
of traditional dishes or to finish soups, season bread, meat, and other foods.
The olive varieties cultivated in Sardinia are: Bosana, Pizz'e carroga, Tonda di Cagliari, Nera di Gonnos and Semidana. Each one of these varieties has its own peculiar characteristics, which are directly conveyed to the oils produced with them. The results can be strikingly different. In 2007 Sardinia has obtained the DOP from the European Union for the production of extra virgin olive oil extract in its territory. This remarks a strict control of all the production processes and ensures high quality products.
For further informations, please click on the link for the brochure of Regione Sardegna about gastronomic specialties.