“These free-form tarts are called formagelle in Italian and pardulas in another Sardinian dialect, but in my dialect they’re casadinas and we traditionally make them for Easter. If you have a pasta machine, use it to roll the dough as thinly as possible; if you don’t, use a rolling pin. This recipe makes quite a few: it can easily be halved, but the tarts will keep well for a week covered and refrigerated – just warm them through in a 100C oven for 10 minutes or so before serving.”
- 100 gm sultanas
- 350 gm well-drained ricotta
- 150 gm young Pecorino Sardo, freshly grated
- 60 gm fine semolina, sieved
- ¼ tsp saffron threads (see note)
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- 100 gm caster sugar
- Finely grated rind of 1 lemon and 1 orange
- 400 gm “00” flour, plus extra for dusting
- 2 eggwhites, lightly beaten
- 25 gm butter, melted
- 1Cover sultanas with warm water and set aside to reconstitute (about 30 minutes), drain and pat dry.
- 2For casadinas dough, sift flour and a pinch of fine sea salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. With the machine running, pour in the eggwhites then 150ml of water and mix until absorbed. Mix in butter, then start adding water, a little at a time, to form a firm dough (about 100ml; you may not need it all – towards the end it doesn’t take much extra water for the dough to become too soft). Tip dough onto a lightly floured work bench and knead with the heels of your hands until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes). Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside for about 1 hour.
- 3Meanwhile, push ricotta through a fine sieve into a mixing bowl. Stir in pecorino, semolina, sultanas, saffron and a pinch of fine sea salt. Add beaten egg, one-third at a time, mixing well between additions. Stir in sugar, then lemon and orange rind, and mix well.
- 4Cut the dough in half and, using a rolling pin on a lightly floured work bench, flatten slightly. Cover one piece of dough with a tea towel to prevent it drying out. Pass the other piece through a pasta machine on the widest setting, then fold in half and pass again. Repeat once. Reduce the setting by a notch and pass the dough through the machine three more times, reducing the setting by a notch each time, dusting lightly with a little flour if it starts to stick. It should end up about 2mm thick. Whenever the dough gets too long to handle, cut it in half and continue with each half separately, keeping any dough that isn’t being rolled under the tea towel. Repeat with remaining dough.
- 5Preheat oven to 150C and line two baking trays with baking paper. Lay a sheet of pastry out on a lightly floured work bench and cut out discs with a 9cm round cutter. Place discs on a tea towel and cover with another tea towel. Cover leftover pastry with a tea towel. Repeat with remaining pastry, then re-roll off-cuts to make more discs. Place a heaped teaspoon of filling in the centre of a disc and gently press it down to flatten a little. Fold the sides of the disc up, pinching and pleating them to form sides around the filling. Using an egg lifter, carefully place the filled tart on one of the prepared baking trays. Cover with a tea towel and repeat with remaining pastry and filling.
- 6Place trays in oven and cook for 20 minutes, then swap the positions of the trays and cook until the filling is well browned (a further 20 minutes or so). Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Serve just warm.
Saffron was likely introduced to Sardinia by the Phoenicians around 700 BC and has long been used to colour, scent and flavour pastas, ragùs and desserts. Sardinian saffron, grown in the province of Medio Campidano around San Gavino Monreale, is highly regarded and was granted Protected Designation of Origin status by the European Union in 2009. If you can’t buy Sardinian saffron, make sure you buy saffron threads – not powder, which can too easily be adulterated. Good saffron is expensive, but just a pinch gives great results.
This recipe is from the September 2012 issue of
by Giovanni Pilu and Roberta Muir is published by Lantern, $49.99, hbk. This extract has been reproduced with minor