1 - What are culurgiones?
Culurgiones are a signature ravioli dish from Sardinia. They are stuffed with a potato puree filling flavoured with mint, garlic and Parmesan. They are easily recognisable by their characteristic wheat ear shape (also known as spiga or spighitta in Sardinian language). The biggest difficulty people face when making this type of stuffed pasta is the closure of the pastry, which is what gives the culurgiones their distinctive appearance. The traditional Culurgiones d’Ogliastra is so important in Sardinian cuisine that it has been recognised as a PGI (Protected Geographical Indication), since 2015. PGI is awarded to agricultural products and foodstuffs closely linked to the geographical area.
2 - What is culurgiones made of?
The dough is prepared with durum wheat semolina flour (you can find the dough recipe here). The filling is composed of boiled and mashed potatoes with mint and cheese. Some recipes call for the use of only fiscidu cheese (a fresh local salted pecorino cheese). Others, add other types of pecorino and goat cheese. In other areas of Sardinia, culurgiones can be seasoned with an alternative filling: for example, in Tortolì, the filling is of potatoes and onions, with a little cheese, in other areas a drop of garlic scented oil is added instead. The cheese used to prepare culurgiones varies from village to village. You should be able to get a good Pecorino Sardo (mild to fresh) at any good Italian supermarket or grocery store.
3 - What sauce do you serve Culurgiones with?
The classic sauce of the culurgiones is a simple tomato sauce and grated seasoned pecorino but, depending on the season, this stuffed pasta also works well with rich meat sauces too. Meanwhile on the coast culurgiones are served seasoned with a good Sardinian extra virgin olive oil and grated mullet roe (Bottarga).
Culurgiones are typically eaten boiled but you can even fry them and the result is truly heavenly! They become mouthwatering pasta bites with a crispy shell and a filling that literally melts in your mouth, perfect to accompany a charcuterie board.
4 - What makes culurgiones so special and where are they found?
It’s the beauty of the pasta shape that makes culurgiones so important to Sardinians. It shows the link between the wheat production that is needed to make the flour for the dough and the skill of the Sardinian women who make this complicated pasta shape by hand. This type of ravioli are recognised by pasta makers from all over the world as one of the hardest pasta shapes to make.
Culurgiones are found all over Sardinia now but they come from the central-eastern area of Sardinia, precisely in Ogliastra, their native town.
5 - When are culurgiones eaten?
Back in the day, before culurgiones became popular all over Italy, they were prepared in Sardinia to celebrate the wheat harvest, and that is where their ear of wheat shape comes from. Nowadays, culurgiones are consumed all year round and served with seasonal sauces and dips. In fact, there are even gourmet versions where the culurgiones are served fried.
6 - Tips for making the perfect culurgiones
To make the perfect culurgiones you need to start by making a perfect pasta dough using the right amount of water and the right durum wheat semolina (you can find our semolina dough recipe here). Then you need to focus on the filling - taste it over and over again to balance the freshness of the mint with the saltyness and savouriness of the cheese and the creaminess of the potatoes. Potatoes absorb a lot of flavour so at first your filling might taste a little plain, but that’s why it’s very important to taste it again before you fill your ravioli. Your pasta sauce is very simple so really focus on getting your filling right. For the shaping, it’s all about practice, practice, practice to get that beautiful culurgiones shape. You can find our culurgiones recipe here and watch our culurgiones recipe video here.
7 - How to store your Culurgiones
When making a big batch of culurgiones, you can freeze them. Make sure to freeze them raw, and eat them within 3 months.