Looking for a great intro pasta dish that requires minimal equipment? Look no further than these perfectly chewy gnocchetti sardi! Also known as malloreddus, these sardinian dumplings are made from just semolina flour and water and don’t require a pasta roller, just your fingers and a gnocchi board. While making the gnocchetti is a time commitment, reward yourself afterwards with a sauce that takes all of 15 minutes to come together. Salty pancetta, tangy and creamy crème fraîche, fresh peas and mint– it’s my ultimate comfort food in a bowl.
- If you don’t have a gnocchi board, you can use a fork to create the ridges. Alternatively, you can roll out on a smooth surface to make cavatelli.
- If you are using frozen peas, simply shock them in the boiling water (5 second at most), then drain and ice.
- You can certainly use store bought pasta as well, plan for 3/4-1 pound of dried pasta.
For the pasta
- 450 grams (about 3 cups) semolina flour
- 225 ml (1 cup) warm water
- 1 tsp diamond kosher salt
- 2 tsp olive oil
For the sauce
- 1 cups fresh shelled peas, or frozen (see tips)
- 1 cup diced pancetta
- ½ tsp lemon zest
- 7.5 oz crème fraîche
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 cup freshly grated parm, plus more for topping
- ¼ cups mint, picked
Special Equipment: gnocchi board
For the pasta
- In a large bowl, add semolina flour and salt and make a well in the center.
- Pour water and olive oil into the well and use a fork to start to combine the water with the flour.
- After the flour and water starts to combine, use your hands to knead the dough to bring it into a ball. It’s OK if the mixture is shaggy and loose.
- Once you can form a ball, transfer dough to a wooden cutting board and knead for 5-10 minutes, until the dough becomes smooth and elastic.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, cut about 1/8th of the dough from the larger ball. Immediately rewrap the rest of the dough so that it doesn’t dry out.
- Roll the portion of the dough into a rope, about ½ inch thick.
- Cut the rope into ½ inch pieces.
- Set up your gnocchi board. Place a piece of dough at one end of the gnocchi board. Press down slightly with the pad of your thumb. Drag your thumb downwards so that the dough curls over itself and creates a hollow center.
- Place completed gnocchetti on a baking sheet dusted with semolina flour. Ensure each piece does not touch.
For the sauce
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, along with a smaller pot of water. Add a generous amount of salt to each pot.
- Fill a bowl with ice water, big enough to hold the peas.
- Once the small pot is boiling, add your peas and boil until they turn bright green and are tender (feel free to taste one!). This should take about 1-2 minutes.
- Drain peas and immediately shock them in the ice water. Set aside.
- Heat a large saute pan over medium heat (big enough to fit all of your cooked pasta).
- Add the pancetta and cook, stirring regularly, until crispy, about 5 minutes. Drain the excess rendered fat.
- Turn the heat to very low and add the peas and saute for 1 minute.
- Add the crème fraîche and lemon zest and stir until the cream melts into a smooth sauce. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Keep the heat on very low.
- Place the gnocchetti in the large pot of boiling water and cook until al dente, about 2-4 minutes. Drain and reserve ⅛ cup pasta water.
- Add the gnocchetti to the sauce. Add the parmesan and a splash of pasta water and stir to combine. Simmer briefly until the sauce all comes together. Taste again, and season if needed. Remove from heat.
- Divide into bowls and top with mint, freshly ground pepper, and more parm.