Sardinia is the second largest of the Italian islands and is known for its fantastic and diverse cuisine. Much of the food is similar to traditional Italian cuisine but as the island did not become part of Italy until 1861, it is also influenced by the cuisine of many other countries who have either invaded or ruled the island. Just some of these influences include Spanish, Roman, Arabic, and Carthaginian. Here is an overview of the traditional cuisine and produce of Sardinia.
Most people assume that as Sardinia is an island, most of the dishes will consist of fish and seafood. However, while these are widely used, most of the main course dishes in Sardinia are meat based and lamb is the most common meat used. This is because there are approximately 3 million sheep on the island. Spit roast lamb and lamb cut into large chunks and served with artichokes and olives are popular dishes. The Sardinians also do not waste any part of the animal and will eat lamb’s feet in tomato sauce or lamb’s liver with olives.
Seafood and Fish
There are many different types of fish and seafood eaten in Sardinia, including sea urchins, lobster, tuna, sea bass, red mullet, and mussels. Bottarga is a regularly used ingredient and this is made from tuna or gray mullet roe that is sun-dried, salted and then pressed. Usually, this is grated or sliced and served on toasted bread.
A range of cheese is produced on the island but Sardinia is particularly famous pecorino romano cheese. This is a cheese made from sheep’s milk. It is also famous for a rotten cheese called casu marzu or Formaggio Marcio. This is a sheep’s milk cheese that contains live maggots and this cheese is now outlawed for hygiene reasons. However, it is still possible to obtain it on the black market. Other cheeses produced in this region include Capra Sarda, Brigante, and Fiore Sardo DOP.
One of the main pastas in Sardinia is called fregula and this is influenced by the cuisine of North Africa. It is served with pasta sauces but is also used in soups. One of the best dishes that uses this pasta is trattoria l’assassino which is a seafood broth with mussels and clams. Another common pasta in Sardinia is malloreddus which is oblong shaped and sometimes called gnochetti sardi. This is often served with a sauce of sausages and tomatoes.
Bread is a staple food in Sardinia and there are over 400 varieties available on the island. The most traditional of these is called pane carasau and this is a thin, circular flatbread. It is usually served with just salt and olive oil and this bread was originally used for shepherds to eat while tending their flocks.
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