Mateo Zielonka or ‘The Pasta Man’, as he’s known, started his restaurant career as a dish washer in a London restaurant during a holiday from his native Poland. He never returned home and instead learned how to cook in the kitchens of London restaurants, eventually making his way to Padella, where he learned how to make pasta. He promptly fell in love with the art of rolling dough, coming up with different flavor combinations and utilizing fresh ingredients to create different colored pastas.

His first cookbook, simply named The Pasta Man provides a crash course into the art of pasta making. Mateo sets out the equipment needed, his favorite ingredients (including tips on choosing dry pasta – look for just two ingredients: water and durum wheat/semolina), cooking pasta, freezing pasta, basic dough recipes, rolling and shaping pasta and 40 delicious pasta recipes.

The Pasta Man’s Malloreddus Alla Vodka

I’ve been making homemade pasta for just over a year now; and it was not until going through his book and watching his Instagram videos on repeat that I was convinced I needed a pasta maker. Up until now, I’ve been happy rolling it out by hand. You see, one of Mateo’s trademarks is his multi-colour pastas – green, red and black stripes, polka dots and criss-crosses made by artfully combining two different pastas. A method that requires a pasta machine.

His step-by-step tutorials are such that they make you want to give them a go. I’ve made a handful of pasta recipes thus far and each one has been better than the next. It’s a must cookbook for anyone who loves pasta and wants to learn how to make their own pasta.

The recipe I’m sharing is his recipe for Malloreddus Alla Vodka. Malloreddus, Mateo explains is a shape that originated in Sardinia. They’re little rolls of pasta with a firm bite that doesn’t need to be rested in the fridge and is shaped by rolling it into logs, cutting into 2.5cm pieces and using a garganelli board to roll it into a pasta curl with grooves. If you don’t have a garganelli board, like me, I’ve discovered you can roll it along a grater or microplane to get little grooves. A bench scraper helps you achieve the little curl. Watch this video to see how you get the shape. The pasta dough is his vegan semolina dough which is soft with a little bite.

The Pasta Man’s Malloreddus Alla Vodka

As for the Malloreddus Alla Vodka, it’s rich, surprisingly easy to make and absolutely delicious. To cut back on the richness, I omitted the butter and parmesan which gave me my perfect dish, but I have added those amounts in the recipe below so you can choose to add them. He suggests serving it with a green salad to offset the richness of the sauce.

It uses mascarpone cheese, which I discovered is easy to make yourself. If you want to give that a whirl, this is the recipe I used which requires just heavy cream, lemon juice, a saucepan, and a cheesecloth which you can get here.

The recipe looks long and complicated, but it’s easier than you think and the results are well worth the effort!

The Pasta Man’s Malloreddus Alla Vodka

Pasta Man by Mateo Zielonka is published by Hardie Grant and distributed in South Africa by Jonathan Ball Publishers. It is available here.

Malloreddus Alla Vodka

A creamy rich pasta made with onions that are slowly cooked, tomato paste, vodka and marscapone cheese. A recipe from The Pasta Man by Mateo Zielonka.
Course: Mains
Dietary: No Added Sugar, Nut Free, Refined Sugar Free, Vegetarian
Servings: 4 servings


  • garganelli board, microplane or grater
  • bench scraper or knife
  • large saucepan


Vegan Semolina Dough

  • 280 grams fine semolina about 1 + 2/3 cups
  • 130 grams water about 1/2 cup

Malloreddus Alla Vodka

  • 400g vegan semolina dough recipe above
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon chilli flakes
  • 40 grams tomato paste
  • 75 ml vodka
  • 150 grams marscarpone cheese
  • 30 grams butter optional
  • 70 grams parmesan grated (optional)


Vegan Semolina Dough

  • Place the semolina in a large mixing bowl, add a pinch of salt and pour in the warm water.
  • Combine with a fork - it will soon look like a crumble mix - and start to form the dough into a loose ball with your hands.
  • As soon as the dough has come together well, turn it onto a board or clean work surface and knead until it is elastic and smooth, 10-15 minutes. Use the heel of one hand to push the dough away from you, and use your other hand to turn it 90 degrees after each knead. You can use it immediately for Malloredus.

Shaping the Malloreddus Pasta

  • Prepare a tray or baking sheet dusted with coarse semolina, ready to lay out your finished pasta.
  • Divide the pasta dough into four, taking one quarter at a time (wrap the rest in clingwrap until ready to use) roll it into a long rope, about the thickness of a pencil.
  • Cut the pasta into pieces, about 2.5cm-3cm long.
  • Using a garganelli board, grater or microplane; place the piece of dough on it. Use a dough scraper or knife press down lightly on the dough so it wraps around the blade, then push the scraper or knife away from you across the board or grater in one smooth motion so the pasta forms a roll , similar to a butter curl. Place the shape on your prepared pan while you roll out the rest.

Malloreddus Alla Vodka

  • In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and add in the onion, garlic and chilli flakes. Cook on a medium heat for 5-8 minutes until the onions are soft and golden, but not browned, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the tomato paste and keep cooking for 5 minutes on a low-medium heat, so that the tomato paste coats the onion and garlic and absorbs their flavour.
  • Move the pan to the smallest ring on the hob and set it on a really low heat to avoid lighting the alchohol as you add it. Once you have added the vodka, leave it to bubble for a few minutes to allow the alcohol to evaporate, then add 3 1/2 tablespoons of water and the mascarpone. Stir until the cheese has completely melted into the sauce, then take it off the heat.
  • Bring a large pot of water to boil, add in salt and the malloreddus pasta. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then drain the pasta, reserving a small jugful of cooking water in case you need to loosen the sauce.
  • Put the sauce back on a medium-low heat, transfer the pasta into the pan and combine it all together. Stir in the butter, if using. Scatter the parmesan all over the pasta and mix it in. Taste it and add more seasoning if desired or more pasta water to loosen the sauce. Divide between four bowls and enjoy.

The Pasta Man’s Malloreddus Alla Vodka

Recipe is reprinted with permission from the publisher. Images are by Nutreats Food Photography Studio

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