On the island of Sardinia, nestled within the alpine reaches of Monte Arci, there lies a small village called Morgongiori. Although best known for its rustic bread, potato-filled culurgiones, and good wine, there is yet another ancient custom that remains, to this day, an important part of the village’s gastronomic heritage and identity. Since the 16th century, the women of Morgongiori have been making lorighittas, an intricately braided pasta shape, the recipe and techniques of which have been passed down from generation to generation.
What are lorighittas?
The tradition of making these twisted golden ringlets dates all the way back to All Saints Day, held in Italy on the 1st of November. Traditionally, it was custom for the women of the village to gather on this day to make the pasta together and commemorate its historical significance.
The technique for making lorighittas has remained unchanged since it was first conceived in the 1500s: the dough is initially rolled into two thin threads which are then wrapped around the forefinger and middle finger to form a circular shape. Both threads are then intertwined to make a braided ring - or sa loriga - in the Sardinian dialect.
Where does the word lorighittas come from?
You might be wondering, where do pasta shapes get their names? The origin of the word lorighittas is long disputed, although many believe it to have originated from the vernacular, lorigas, which translates to ‘iron rings’ in English. However, the word is also similar to the Sardinian for ‘ears’ and locals maintain that women would make this pasta in order to hang it on their ears, signalling their unmarried status.
Our handmade lorighittas pasta recipe
Total prep time: 1 hour
Calories per serving: 126 kcal
- 300 grams durum or semolina flour
- 180 grams water
Making the dough
- Place the durum wheat flour onto a clean surface or into a large bowl. Make a small well in the centre of the flour.
- Pour the water into the well. Using a fork, mix the water and durum wheat flour together, starting with the well, gradually incorporating more flour into the water. Once the water is fully mixed in, use your hands to roll the dough into a ball. Knead until it feels sticky and looks a little rough on the outside. Wrap the dough in cling film and let it rest for 15-20 minutes.
Shaping the pasta
- Cut off a small portion of dough — about 2 inches long — and roll it into a long rope using your hands. Make one end thinner than the other.
- Take the thinner side and wrap the dough around your pointer and middle finger two times. Pinch the end to remove the piece from the rest of the dough.
- Using the tips of your fingers, twist the two layers of dough around each other to make a braided ring.
- Repeat the process to make the rest of the lorighittas.
Cooking or storing the pasta
- Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Once bubbling, add a generous amount of salt.
- Boil the pasta in water for about 2 minutes. Pour yourself a Mirto Spritz and serve your dish with one of our favourite flavourful sauces.
Should you wish to save your fresh pasta to cook later, take a look at our handy pasta storing guide.
Why is there no egg in this pasta dough?
Many pasta shapes are made from what is known as pasta bianca, or ‘white dough’, made using only flour and water. These pasta shapes commonly derive from the South, where limited access to expensive ingredients such as eggs meant that pasta-makers had to innovate with the ingredients that they had. Nowadays, pasta bianca remains a popular choice in southern Italy, where a lighter dough is better suited to its warmer climate.
Where can I find durum wheat flour? What can it be substituted with?
You should be able to source durum wheat flour or semolina flour from any whole food store or good Italian vendor. However, should it prove difficult to locate, there are plenty of good options online.