- Large pinch of saffron threads
- 1/4 cup hot water
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
- 3/4 pound Italian sausage, meat removed from the casings and crumbled
- One 28-ounce can plus one 14-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes, drained and chopped, liquid reserved
- 3 tablespoons slivered sage leaves
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 pound malloreddus
- 1/3 cup freshly grated aged Pecorino cheese, plus more for serving
- 3 tablespoons slivered basil leaves
- Steep the saffron in the hot water. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and cook over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until soft and golden, about 20 minutes.
- Push the onions to the edge of the pan. Add the sausage meat and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 8 minutes. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, saffron water and sage, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes; whenever the sauce becomes very thick and begins to stick to the pan, stir in some of the reserved tomato liquid. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add salt, then add the malloreddus and cook until al dente. Drain the pasta and immediately add it to the hot sauce; toss well. Stir in the 1/3 cup of grated Pecorino and the basil and serve, passing additional Pecorino at the table.
The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
The sweetness and acidity in this rustic dish call for a straightforward fruity red. Try a Tuscan Sangiovese or a Zinfandel from California.