Culurgiones are our favourite homemade stuffed pasta from the island of Sardinia in Italy.
Our healthy vegetarian Culurgiones recipe is quick and easy to make, ready to serve in under 2 hours!
Slice through these plump filled Sardinian pasta dumplings featuring flavourful olive oil, onion, tomato, basil, pecorino, goat cheese, mashed potato, mint, and saffron.
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What Is Culurgiones Pasta?
For an authentic taste of Sardinian cooking, why not learn how to make Culurgiones pasta at home?
Culurgiones (or culurgionis) are a unique type of stuffed pasta originally from the Ogliastra, a mountainous area on the Eastern side of Sardinia.
The Sardinian town’s most famous for the preparation of Culurgiones are Ulassai, Jerzu, Villagrande Strisaili, Osini and Lotzorai. In the area of Villagrande Strisaili, Culurgiones are fried instead of boiled.
Many customs are attached to this traditional Sardinian pasta dish, typically consumed on special days. In the town of Ulassai, Culurgiones are eaten only on the “Day of the Dead” held on November 2nd. They are also prepared on other festive occasions like Thanksgiving and Carnival in February.
The appearance of Culurgiones has a striking similarity with the shape of wheat grain as it is believed to appease new crops in August. They are even considered to be the talisman that safeguards family deprivation.
The concept of culurgiones is similar to that of ravioli: a fresh pasta filled with other ingredients, measuring between 2-4 inches in length and between 1-2 inches in width.
A basic fresh pasta dough is filled with a mixture of potato, pecorino cheese and mint, before being shaped into plump ears pinched together to form a seal.
The Sardinian pasta are then briefly boiled then served with a simple tomato sauce and fresh basil. The recipe will be one of your new favourite Italian pasta dishes!
The most challenging step when making homemade Culurgiones is shaping the pasta dumplings. They are meant to resemble a wheat spike, with the top end folded in like a braid.
Sardinian nonas have been perfecting this iconic pasta crimp for generations so don’t be too hard on yourself if your dumplings aren’t perfection on a plate.
If the pinching of the pasta dough to seal the filling is too complex or you’re struggling don’t fret! Just close them like you would a homemade pierogie.
If you love homemade pasta try making our popular Ricotta Gnocchi Italian Dumplings or Pici Cacio e Pepe Pasta at home!
Travel to Italy by Cooking Sardinian Culurgiones at Home
I love traveling to Europe!
During my first visit to the continent I traveled for 5 months by train and plane. I had the opportunity to eat my way through Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales, Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland,Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Czech, Germany, Austria, Croatia, Bosnia, Hungary, Slovakia, Greece, Turkey and Italy.
What I love most about traveling to Italy is the opportunity to sample unique dishes in each region and city. The dishes in Tuscany (Florence, Pisa, Volterra, Saturnia, Pitigliano, Sorano, Montalcino, Siena) are unique from what you’d find in Venice, Modena, Milan, Rome, and Amalfi Coast.
If you’re visiting Sardinia for the first time you’ll find Culurgiones on menus at local restaurants and agriturismo homestays.
Once back home from a Sardinian holiday you’ll have a newfound appreciation for the flavours of Italy and can impress friends and family by making our homemade Culurgiones recipe!
Where To Eat Culurgiones
If you live in a large city in Canada or America you’ll likely have access to a local Italian restaurant that serves stuffed Sardinian pasta.
Haven’t traveled to Italy before? It may be helpful to first sample Sardinian Pasta at a local Italian restaurant to better understand how the dish is served. You can also assess the ideal size of the dumplings, best ingredients used in the filling and sauce before trying to make Culurgiones at home from scratch.
In Toronto, popular Italian restaurants in Yorkville, King West and Ossington that may serve fresh Sardinian pasta include Bar Vendetta, Buca, Superpoint, Amano, Fabbrica, Oretta, FIGO, Nodo, Locale Mercatto, The Good Son, Taverna Mercatto, Ascari Enoteca, Il Fornello or Gusto 101.
My Family Loves Sardinian Stuffed Pasta
I love cooking Culurgiones for my family.
I first made this traditional Sardinian stuffed pasta recipe on Easter weekend at our cottage in Muskoka.
We had leftover mashed potatoes from a previous meal as well as scraps of cheese and fresh herbs in the fridge that had to get used up.
It’s a fun recipe to make with family, especially kids, who can perfect their pasta dough rolling and shaping skills. My mom and I attempted to perfect our pasta pinching by forming braids that sealed the fresh pasta dough before boiling.
I started making the recipe in the morning after we finished brunch and by lunch we were ready to sit down and fork through these yummy dumplings tossed in fresh tomato sauce.
Culurgiones Health Benefits
Our Culurgiones recipe is packed full of healthy ingredients!
Olive Oil is ranked as one of the healthiest fats and is a staple in the Mediterranean diet. It contains vitamins E and K and plenty of beneficial fatty acids and antioxidants.
It is only recently that scientists have begun to identify the components responsible for garlic’s myriad health benefits. Rich in phytochemicals and potassium, garlic helps boost your immune system, fight cancer and protect your heart.
Onions are a humble vegetable packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. Regular consumption of onions can help boost digestive health and reduce the risk of developing heart disease.
Rich in a group of phytochemicals called carotenoids, tomatoes may help reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, and provide protection against cancer. Tomatoes are also a good source of immune-boosting vitamin C.
Consuming dairy products (such as milk and cheese) provides health benefits — especially improved bone health. Dairy foods provide nutrients that are vital for health and maintenance of your body. These nutrients include calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and protein.
Eggs contain two vital nutrients that are not present in many foods: iodine and vitamin D. Eggs are also rich in tissue-building protein and vitamin B12, which helps your body manufacture blood cells.
The eugenol in basil can block calcium channels, which may help to lower blood pressure. The essential oils in the herb can help to lower your cholesterol and triglycerides. Basil also contains magnesium, which can help to improve blood flow by allowing muscles and blood vessels to relax.
Fresh mint is antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and can have a calming effect on the digestive system. It is also a good source of folate, which supports blood health.
Potatoes are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Studies have linked potatoes to a variety of impressive health benefits, including improved blood sugar control, reduced heart disease risk and higher immunity.
Whole wheat flour is rich in vitamins B-1, B-3, and B-5, along with riboflavin and folate. It also has more iron, calcium, protein, and other nutrients than white flour.
Sardinian Pasta Cooking Tips
This healthy Sardinian pasta is quick and easy to make at home. We’ve included a few tips to ensure your first batch are beautiful!
- Use a large cast iron dutch oven with a high rim when boiling pasta water.
- Use a high quality nonstick skillet to prepare the tomato sauce and toss the cooked Culurgiones.
- We used a rolling pin and round cookie cutters to form the pasta dough. You could also use a pasta maker.
- Traditional Culurgiones recipes feature aged pecorino as well as fresh pecorino. The latter can be more challenging to find in grocery stores in Canada and America so feel free to substitute with ricotta.
- If you have leftovers we suggest boiling all of the dumplings, as the raw dough does not freeze well (it cracks and falls apart when frozen). Fill your favourite casserole dish with leftover boiled Culurgiones, top with tomato sauce and shredded mozzarella or parmesan cheese. Wrap in tin foil and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
What To Serve with Culurgiones Stuffed Pasta
There’s nothing more comforting than cozying up to a plate of plump cheese and potato stuffed pasta.
If you’re hosting an Italian-themed dinner party feel free to serve Culurgiones in a buffet alongside Instant Pot Short Rib Ragu, Cheesy Polenta, Ricotta Gnocchi, Creamy Warm Orzo Lemon Salad, Homemade Pici Cacio e Pepe Pasta, Involtini di Pollo, Parmesan Ditalini Soup, Aperol Gin Cocktails and Amaretto Disaronno Sour.
For a light lunch or dinner, pair Sardinian pasta with fresh salads like Vegetarian Roasted Pumpkin Feta Salad, Roasted Beetroot Salad, Garlic Lemon Chickpea Avocado Salad and Fennel, Apple, Celery and Roasted Hazelnut Salad.
After dinner why not dazzle your guests with one of our popular desserts such as Kardemummabullar Swedish Cardamom Buns , Gevulde Speculaas, Turmeric Pumpkin Spice Indian Cake, Chewy Easter Toffee Cadbury Mini Egg Cookie Bars, Oat Flour Cookies with Chocolate Chips, Dark Chocolate Lindt Lindor Cookies, Maraschino Cherry Cupcakes Recipe or Cinnamon Babka For Chocolate Lovers.
Storing Sardinian Pasta
If you have leftover Culurgiones you can store them in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days. To reheat simply zap it in the microwave or bake in the oven at 350 F.
If you have a lot of leftovers (and we do suggest doubling the recipe to make good use of your time) we suggest boiling all of the dumplings, as the raw dough does not freeze well (it cracks and falls apart when frozen).
Fill your favourite casserole dish with leftover boiled Culurgiones, top with tomato sauce and shredded mozzarella or parmesan cheese. Wrap in tin foil and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Place the frozen Culurgiones casserole in the fridge the day before you hope to enjoy it for dinner. Once partially thawed, bake in a 350 F oven for 30-45 minutes.
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How To Make Traditional Sardinian Culurgiones Pasta
Culurgiones in Tomato Sauce
- mixing bowl
- measuring cups
- measuring spoons
- Cookie Cutters
- Rolling pin
- Wooden spoon or spatula
- cheese grater
Culurgiones Pasta Dough
- 1 kg Semolina Flour
- 2 cups Water
- 1 tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 Spanish Onion diced
- 4 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 L Passata
- 20 g Basil
- 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 kg Potatoes
- 100 g Aged Pecorino grated
- 200 g Fresh Pecorino grated
- 200 g Goat Cheese
- 4 tbsp Mint chopped
- 1 Egg beaten
- 2 Garlic Cloves minced
- 4 tbsp Olive Oil
- Pinch Saffron
- Place flour in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour in the oil and water and mix flour into the liquids. Mop up any remaining flour with the dough and quickly knead. The dough should feel soft and pillowy but not sticky. Feel free to add a dusting of dough to achieve the correct consistency if it is too wet.
- Knead the dough for at least 10 minutes. Your final dough should feel silky and smooth. A great test is pressing your thumb into the dough. It is finished if the imprint bounces back. Cover the dough with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. Let rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile make the tomato sauce, by placing a large skillet over medium high heat. Saute the onion in olive oil until translucent, 2-3 minutes. Add passata, whole basil leaves and salt. Let simmer for 30 minutes on low heat. Remove the basil once finished cooking.
- While the sauce is simmering, roll out the dough to 2mm thickness. Use a cookie cutter to make circles in the dough, 8 cm in diameter. Keep them covered with a damp tea towel to prevent them from drying out.
- To make the filling, peel, quarter and boil potatoes for 15 minutes. Drain the cooked potatoes and mash them until smooth. Once the potatoes have cooled, thoroughly mix the filling ingredients together.
- Add a walnut-sized dollop of filling into the centre of each pasta circle. Cup one into your left hand and "sew" the seam across the top. Pinch the dough starting at one end of the half-moon with the tips of your thumb and forefinger of your other hand.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cooking the Culurgiones in batches. Once they float to the top, around 5 minutes, scoop them out with a slotted spoon and top with tomato sauce and basil leaves.
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