The real name of this shape is malloreddus, a kind of small dumpling that literally means “veal” in Sardinian. Pasta makers subsequently preferred the term “gnocchi sardi” for selling their pasta, which was more understandable for consumers. They are also sold with the name “macarones coidos” or “ciciones” in north-west Sardinia.
Malloreddus are the typical dish of Sardinian cuisine. Saffron (whose crops from Sardinia are imported worldwide) was originally used directly in the dough and gave it a slightly yellow colour. Today, however, saffron is added directly to the sauce with which the gnocchi are enjoyed.
Gnocchi sardi are excellent with a nice meat ragù, especially with veal or sausage. They are also great with lighter sauces, for example sauce with fresh tomatoes, ricotta and basil.