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CASADINAS - Sardinian Ricotta & Pecorino Tarts

by Giovanni Pilu

 

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 finely as possible, if you don’t, use a rolling pin. This recipe makes quite a few, it can easily be halved but they’ll keep for a week covered and refrigerated, just warm them through in a 100°C oven for 10 minutes or so before serving.

Casadinas recipe by Giovanni Pilu

WHAT YOU NEED

 Makes about 40

FILLING

  • 100g sultanas
  • 350g well-drained ricotta
  • 150g young Pecorino Sardo, freshly grated
  • 60g fine semolina, sifted
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon saffron threads
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 100g castor sugar
  • 1 orange, zest finely grated
  • 1 lemon, zest finely rated
  • Type 00 flour, for dusting

 

DOUGH

  • 400g type 00 flour
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup water, more or less
  • 25g butter, melted

HOW TO PREPARE

TO MAKE THE DOUGH

Sift flour and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer. Mixing with a dough hook, pour in the egg whites then 150ml of the water and mix until absorbed
Mix in butter, then start adding remaining water, a little at a time, to form a firm dough, 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 clean, lightly floured workbench and knead with the heels of your hands for about 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside for about 1 hour.

 

TO MAKE THE FILLING

Cover sultanas with warm water and set aside for about 30 minutes to reconstitute them; drain and pat dry. Push ricotta through a fine sieve into a mixing bowl. Stir in Pecorino, semolina, sultanas, salt, and saffron. Add eggs, one third at a time, beating each lot in before the next is added. Stir in sugar then lemon and orange zests and mix well

 

PUTTING TOGETHER

Cut the dough in half and, using a rolling pin on a clean, lightly floured workbench, flatten slightly. Cover one piece of dough with a clean 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, then fold in half and pass a third time. Reduce the setting by one notch and pass the dough through the machine 3 more times, reducing the setting by one notch each time, dusting lightly with a little flour if it starts to stick. It should end up about 2mm-thic. 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.

Preheat oven to 150°C.

Lay a sheet of pastry out on a clean, lightly floured workbench and cut out discs with a 9cm round cutter. Place discs on a clean tea towel and cover with another clean tea towel.Cover leftover pastry with a clean tea towel as well. Repeat with remaining pastry, then reroll 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 them to form a cup around the filing. Using an egg lift carefully place the filled tart on a baking paper-lined baking tray. Cover with a clean tea towel and repeat with remaining discs and filling.

Place trays in oven and cook for 20 minutes, then swap the positions of the trays and cook for a further 20 minutes or so, until the filling is well browned. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Serve warm.