For some, shepherds’ pie is the ultimate comfort food…but this is a wonderful contradiction in terms – exotic, interesting…and a comforting, easy to eat dish at the same time. Mini-malloredus are a small Sardinian pasta – if you can’t find them use orzo pasta, or the very similar Greek kritharaki…or very small penne.


NB: this needs long, slow cooking.


In the unlikely event of any leftovers, use them good for aubergines….or peppers.


Recipe for ultimate comfort food – sausage, spices, and mini-malloredus

Serves 3


  • 200g/7 oz/ about a foot of sausage. This can be spicy French (Toulouse) or Italian sausage, or English sausages. If the sausages are mild, add some Aleppo pepper, or, even better, some earthy Urfa pepper…or some dried chillies
  • Olive oil for frying
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 large onion
  • Urfa pepper, or Aleppo pepper
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed with 1 tsp smoked salt
  • 240ml/1 cup rosato vermouth
  • 400g tin of tomatoes
  • 250g malloredus – the smallest type, or you could use orzo pasta
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • A large, robust sprig of rosemary
  • 4 sundried tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp thick balsamic
  • Grated Parmesan


  1. Take off the sausage casing, get some olive oil heating in a high-sided frying pan – ideally one that you can put in the oven.
  2. Drop crumbled bits of (nut-sized – half a walnut to a cashew – see photo) sausage meat into the pan, and cook through. Add the heat you want – Aleppo or Urfa pepper, dried chillies. Start with a quarter teaspoon first. You can add more once you have the sauce going.
  3. While the sausage is cooking, cut off the green fronds from the fennel and set to one side. Slice the fennel, and peel and chop the onion.
  4. Take the bits of sausage out with a slotted spoon, and set to one side.
  5. Add a bit more olive oil to the pan. Add the fennel and onion. Sweat gently for a good 15 minutes.
  6. Add the garlic. Stir in.
  7. Add the vermouth. Increase the heat, and let it bubble away until it becomes syrupy rather than liquidy.
  8. Add the tin of tomatoes. Add the thick sprig of rosemary. Add the capers. Add the balsamic vinegar. Add the dried oregano. Grind over some pepper. Taste, and adjust the seasoning and the spiciness.
  9. Simmer gently for about half an hour.
  10. About a quarter of an hour before you want to eat add the sausage back in, and cook the malloredus, or orzo pasta according to the packet instructions.
  11. Serve the pasta with the sauce on top, a garnish of the fennel fronds, and a bowl of Parmesan.


sausage, spices and pasta recipe

Crumble the sausage into large crumbs.