serves: 2 pounds
This recipe makes a large batch of malloreddus, enough to serve eight. You don't need to cook it all, because it freezes easily and keeps well. Malloreddus can be dressed simply with butter and grated cheese or almost any sauce you like. My favorite version, though, is the first one I ever had, in Porto Cervo many years ago: malloreddus with Sausage-Tomato Sauce.
1 teaspoon saffron thread
1½ pounds semolina flour, plus more for working the dough
Drop the saffron threads into 1/2 cup of hot water in a spouted measuring cup, and let steep 5 minutes or longer. Pour in 3/4 cup cold water (so you have 11/4 cups total).
Put the flour in the bowl of the food processor, and start the processor running. Pour in almost all of the saffron water through the feed tube (the threads can go in, too), reserving a couple of tablespoons. Process for 30 to 40 seconds, until a dough forms and gathers on the blade and cleans the sides of the bowl. If the dough is too sticky, add another tablespoon or two of flour. If it is too dry, add the remaining water. Process another 10 to 20 seconds.
Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface, and knead by hand for a minute, until it's smooth, soft, and stretchy. Press it into a disk, wrap well in plastic wrap, and let rest at room temperature for at least 1/2 hour. (Refrigerate the dough for up to a day, or freeze for a month or more. Defrost in the refrigerator, and return to room temperature before rolling.)
Cut the dough into eight pieces; work with one at a time, and keep the others covered with a towel or plastic wrap. Roll the dough under your hands on a clean work surface, first forming a smooth log and gradually stretching it into a long rope 1/2 inch thick. With dough scraper or knife, chop the rope into ?-inch-long segments, like tiny cylinders; separate and lightly dust them with flour.
To form malloreddus: Hold the grater-shredder at an angle against the work surface, turned so the back side or underside is exposed: You want this smooth surface of perforated holes to mark the pasta, not the rough surface of sharp edges and burrs that you would use for grating. (If you are using a box grater, you want the inside of the finest grating-shredding face; you'll need to reach it through the bottom of the box.)
Pick up one small piece of dough, and place it on the grater face. Press into it with your lightly floured thumb, and quickly push down and away-rolling it against the holes and flicking it off the grater in one movement. It's just like rolling gnocchi against the tines of a fork (and similar to plucking a guitar string). Roll all the cut segments into malloreddus, dust them with flour, and scatter them on a lightly floured tray, not touching.
Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. When all the pasta is formed, you can leave the malloreddus at room temperature until you are ready to cook. Or freeze them solid on the trays, and pack them airtight in plastic bags.