Culurgiònes are a specialty of the Ogliastra province in Sardinia; an area known for its gorgeous beaches, traditional villages and spectacular rocky scenery.
It’s also a beautiful place to chill by turquoise coloured waters and get a taste of its local cuisine.
You can spot wheat growing on many parts of the island; providing it’s the right time of the year. So it’s a given that these pleated little dumplings resemble a spike of wheat – a grain that’s been grown in Sardinia for almost 10,000 years.
Traditionally, culurgiònes are prepared for special occasions and thanksgiving at the end of the wheat harvest. As you’d expect, the fillings vary from region to region – tasty innards from potato, oil & mint to cheese & saffron. Some folk even use veal or beef fat instead of olive oil. Now that would taste pretty good!
The culurgiònes I’ve made here are filled with a mixture of mashed potato, parmesan, mint and olive oil. The texture is soft, the mint isn’t overbearing, the cheese is spot on and, well, they’re kinda delicious.
Often they’re served on their own with a light splash of olive oil and good dusting of freshly grated pecorino – or perhaps with a simple tomato sauce. Again, it depends who’s making them, and where.
I like the idea of a simple tomato sauce, but I added eggplant and a splash of red wine for a little more flavour. In a way it’s a stripped-down version of caponata that goes nicely with the velvety soft dumplings. It’s an easy sauce that takes no effort at all. Simply lump all the ingredients into a pot and whack it in the oven.
Now, let’s talk about the way these things have been constructed.
Pleating culurgiònes may be enough to put anyone off from making them altogether. I’ve got to be honest, the first five or six that I made looked a little like Sardinian road kill, but you quickly get the hang of it, I assure you. At least I had enough pastry at the end to gut the first failures and remake them a little more deftly.
Not that mine are perfect, mind you!