This spicy Calabrian pasta with ‘Nduja recipe will become your once-a-week go-to easy meal when you need to whip something up quickly. I always keep a jar in the fridge because the rest of the ingredients can be found in everyone’s pantry.
What is ‘Nduja?
‘Nduja is a spreadable sausage from southern Italy called Calabria. It’s like Sobrassada from the Spanish Balearic Island, but a lot spicier. The intense heat in ‘Nduja comes from the dried Calabrian chilli peppers. The peppers are minced with pork trimmings and packed into a sausage casing. Like Sobrassada, ‘Nduja is also smoked, resulting in a softer pate-like texture. When needed, the mixture is scooped from the sausage casing and served, typically over bread.
‘Nduja is the Calabrian addition to the Italian lexicon of cured meats known as Salumi. Salumi is the name for meat products typically served as antipasto, an Italian cold meat dinner starter. It means salted meat predominantly consisting of salted or cured pork. However, Salumi may also include the cured beef product known as bresaola and cooked pork products such as mortadella.
Pasta with ‘Nduja – ‘Ndujas Perfect Texture in Making A Sauce
‘Nduja has a high-fat content, but don’t let that frighten you into skipping this deliciously spicy salami. This fat content allows the sausage to crumble and melt into a tomato sauce, resulting in a thick, smooth, creamy sauce.
This pasta with ‘Nduja recipe uses tomato passata, pureed tomatoes that haven’t been cooked. It’s technically a quick cheat to create a smooth tomato sauce. However, ‘Ndujas spiciness means the tomatoes don’t need as much help as they usually require in making a sauce. Its texture also improves its mouthfeel and elevates the cheat code into a far superior option in next to zero minutes.
‘Nduja obviously contains meat. However, as its popularity grows, vegan versions are becoming more and more available. Often branded as No’duja. It’s made with the same Calabrian peppers, or at least the better versions are. You can easily swap ‘Nduja for a vegan alternative if you prefer.
What to serve with Pasta with ‘Nduja?
In Calabria, they often serve ‘Nduja in a quick cherry tomato sauce with a pasta called Fileja. It’s between 3 and 4mm thick and shaped like an elongated screw. A durum wheat dough is wrapped around a cane to create a hollow tube up to 20cm long. I haven’t found this pasta locally, but any tubular pasta can be substituted.
Pasta with ‘Nduja
- 300 g Tubular Pasta
- 30 ml Olive Oil
- 1 Red Onion Thinly Sliced
- 3 Garlic Cloves Chopped
- 120 g ‘Nduja Paste
- 500 g Tomato Passata
- 20 g Basil Leaves Torn
- Salt to taste
- 5 g Freshly Grated Parmesan
- 5 g Fresh Parsley chopped.
- Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta for 8-10 minutes or according to packet instructions. When the pasta is al dente, drain, reserving a tbsp of cooking liquid to add to the sauce.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onions. Cook for 5-6 minutes until the onions are soft and begin to brown. Stir in the garlic and ‘Nduja and cook for a further minute. Deglaze the pan with the reserved pasta water and add the tomato passata. Cook for an additional 2 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse.
- Toss the drained pasta with the sauce and stir in the torn basil. Season to taste.
- Serve topped with freshly grated parmesan and chopped parsley.