Cagliari traditional cuisine

su pani carasau

A stay in Cagliari also includes an encounter with a cuisine that offers a wide variety of excellent dishes. So we advise you to forget about Italian and international cooking, at least for once, and let yourself be tempted by the flavors of the Sardinian tradition. The choice of Sardegna food begins with the bread.

Some examples: su cifraxu, the most common, is in the shape of an enormous sandwich roll; su coccoi is made with fine flour and is decorated with small crests which during the baking become golden brown and crisp (is pizzicorrus); su pani carasau, a very thin, crisp flat bread made with flour and semolina, excellent served with olive oil and salt and known as su pani guttiau. From carasau is made pani frattau by dipping the bread in hot water then seasoning it in layers with tomato sauce, ground meat and grated pecorino cheese. It is topped by a poached egg. Similar to carasau, but soft, is spianata.

A Sardinian dinner always begins with appetizers from land or sea: wild boar ham, sausage, pickled lamb or veal feet, clams or mussels “marinara” style, burrida (dogfish con parsley and walnuts), bottarga (pressed and dried tuna or mullet roe) served in thin slices sprinkled with olive oil.

Among the first courses, special mention must go to sa fregula (coarse semolina sprinkled with warm water and rolled into small balls under the hand) served with fish stock; malloreddus, small gnocchi made with semolina and saffron, served with tomato sauce and grated cheese; culingionis, ravioli made with semolina, and panadas, large pies filled with vegetables, meat or eels. The latter speciality is the leading character in a festival dedicated to it in the middle of July at Assemini (a few km from Cagliari).

Sardinia food traditional meat dishes are suckling pigs, lambs or kids roasted on skewers. Those who are looking for even newer flavors can try sa cordula, lamb baked in the oven or browned, and sanguinaccio, a blood sausage made with the intestine of the pig filled with the animal’s blood, raisins and sugar, pot-roasted or barbecued.

As concerns seafood, Sardinians prefer barbecued fish (giltheads, striped bream, sea bass, red mullet, grey mullet and eels), while spiny lobsters, crayfish, small squid and clams are used in making pasta sauces and risottos. From the island’s sheep breeding tradition come different kinds of cheeses, the production of which now takes place in cheese factories. Among the best-known are fiore sardo (or pecorino sardo), a hard cheese made from fresh whole ewe’s milk curdled with lamb or kid rennet; pecorino romano made with cooked ewe’s milk and lamb’s rennet. It is compact and sharp; dolce sardo, a soft cheese made from cow’s milk. Quite unique is su casu marzu (literally “rotten cheese”): on the inside of the wheel small white worms hatch and feed on the cheese. In time, the cheese becomes a delicate but sharp cream.