Orecchiette alla Gallurese
Photos: Jeff Marini

The dreary days of March call for soothing yet bright dishes like this rich, saffron-tinged pasta from Tortello, a restaurant and pasta shop in Wicker Park. Co-owner Dario Monni’s grandfather hailed from Gallura, Sardinia, and “the dish is pretty close to being classically Gallurese,” says executive chef Duncan Biddulph. “The thing that makes it a bit American is that we add more cream.” For this version, sub in easy-to-find orecchiette for chiusoni, the gnocchi-like pasta used at Tortello.

Duncan Biddulph’s Orecchiette alla Gallurese

Makes:4 to 6 servings
Active time:30 minutes
Total time:40 minutes

8 oz. Bulk Italian sausage
3 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 Yellow onion, diced
3 Cloves garlic, minced
  Pinch of saffron
⅓ cup White wine
1 cup Heavy cream
2 Tbsp. Butter
¼ cup Chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
  Salt and pepper
1 lb. Orecchiette
  Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano, freshly grated


Browning sausage

In a large pan over medium-low heat, gently brown the sausage in the olive oil, using a wooden spoon to break it up, until cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the sausage to a bowl and pour off all but a tablespoon or so of the fat.


Pasta sauce

Over low heat, sweat the onion and garlic in the reserved fat until soft and translucent, 10 to 12 minutes.

Add cooked sausage, saffron, and wine and bring to a simmer. Add cream, butter, parsley, salt, and pepper. Continue simmering until mixture is reduced by roughly two-thirds, about 15 minutes.


Finished pasta

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in generously salted boiling water according to package directions. Strain and add it to the sauce, along with 3 tablespoons of the pasta cooking water. Cook for 1 minute more to combine the pasta and sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Divide the pasta among serving plates and sprinkle with Pecorino or Parmigiano and chopped parsley.