Gnocchetti sardi are a lovely pasta that looks like a small shell. Cooked, it holds its shape and tight texture so it melds well with strong flavors in meat sauces as well as vegetable ones. Hello! It has been almost two years since my last post, but I’m back! Last Memorial Day I made gnocchetti sardi as a side for our barbecue dinner. It works well for a crowd because it can be scooped up easily and a little bit goes a long way.
An artisanal pasta from Abruzzo, gnocchetti are traditionally made with a meat sauce. But I had a hankering for a pasta made with asparagus, which are in season, and the first tender zucchini, flowers and all, coming from my garden. I also felt like having a tomato base, but nothing too heavy. I made a basic sauce using a jar of passata di pomodoro by Cento. I began the usual way with olive oil, a few cloves of garlic…heated it up and poured the passata into the sauce pan.
While it cooked down, I prepared the vegetables. It is important to cut them to the same size as the pasta.
2-3 small zucchini with flowers if you have them
1/2 lb of asparagus
half an onion chopped
1-2 fresh tomatoes chopped
1/2 cup of white wine, broth or water
fresh oregano (or basil will do too)
1/2 a lemon
In a saucepan heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil, added the onion and sauteed it for about five minutes until fragrant. Add the asparagus, give the pan a shake and saute’ briskly “a fuoco vivo” (high heat) for 2-3 minutes. Add the zucchini…and do the same. Lastly add the tomatoes. Again, a shake and a stir. Add the wine or other liquid, salt and pepper and cook for another few minutes until the vegetables are tender, but not soft and the tomatoes hold their shape. Turn the heat off if the pasta is not yet ready to be drained.
When the pasta has cooked al dente, drain, keeping some of the cooking water. Add to the pan with the sauce, then add the vegetables, a fistful of the fresh organo. Stir quickly over high heat so all the flavors will blend, drizzle the juice of half a lemon and then turn out on a platter. Shave plenty of ricotta salata over it and serve! Excellently paired with a crisp pinot grigio.