Pasta with ‘Nduja Sauce

Nduja is one of the more interesting Italian specialty foods I’ve come across recently. Native to the southern Calabria region, the uniquely soft salami is spicy and packed with the fiery flavor of red peppers. It can be enjoyed spread thin over crackers or bread, used as the base for a stew or in a spicy pasta dish, brushed onto chicken, fish, or other meats, or layered as a topping for pizza.

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Nduja is made from the throat meat and fat of pigs.  The meat is chopped finely, then combined with salt and the ground hot pepper, which is also grown in Calabria, to form a paste. The meat paste is then piped inside a natural hog casing of the intestine and secured with hand-knotted hemp string before being hung in a curing chamber. It is smoked for about a week and then dried for three weeks or longer. The texture could be described as being similar to pâté, although slightly coarser, spicier and smokier.

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‘Nduja spread on crackers

The sausage paste has only recently become known outside of southern Italy. In England, you can find it at Waitrose as well as other specialty shops. When cooking, a little goes a long way, and just one tablespoon of the paste can sufficiently spice up a tomato sauce for pasta. 

 

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Pasta with ‘Nduja Sauce

Ingredients:

1/3 Cup Finely Chopped Onions
4 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic, Peeled & Minced
Approximately 3 Tablespoons Nduja Removed From The Casing
1 (14 Ounce) Can Pomodorini Tomatoes (See Note Above For Alternatives)
Salt & Pepper
1/2 Cup Cooked Chickpeas
1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley

250 Grams Penne Pasta

Directions:

In a small saucepan heat the olive oil and cook the onion until it is translucent.
Add the garlic and nduja and stir until the nduja melts into the oil.
Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, chickpeas, and parsley and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes.
Cook your pasta until “al dente” and drain.
Return the pasta to the pot, add the nduja sauce and cook for a minute of two over high heat stirring constantly.
Serve hot. Can add Parmesan cheese or Ricotta cheese.

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