Spaghetti with ‘Nduja

September 30, 2011


Spaghetti with 'Nduja

‘Nduja is a spicy, spreadable, Calabrian sausage up there with the trendiest of ingredients. For months I’ve resisted its porky charms, the only reason being that my only other experience with a (different) spreadable sausage (at a very popular East London restaurant) ended in 3 days of food poisoning hell. The very idea of spreadable meat made me queasy, until I came across a ‘nduja stall in Borough Market last week. The giant red lobes glistened seductively in the sunlight, I approached cautiously for a taste, then promptly kicked myself for being such a wuss and missing out on what is one of the most delicious pork products I’ve tasted in a very long time.

It is made mostly from bits of the head, super-charged with outrageous quantities of fiery red Calabrian chilli pepper (at least 60% according to some websites) which gives it the most intensely savoury umami addictive quality. You can just taste the sun in the bitter-sweet intensity of those red peppers. I can’t get enough.

It’s wonderful melted and scrambled into eggs, or used as a dip for bread (as the Calabrians apparently eat it). Tim Hayward likes it with crab. My favourite way to eat it is melted into pasta sauce, with or without tomato. Its power to enrich a basic tomato pasta sauce is second to none but now I prefer it stirred into just a little onion and butter; the sausage melts away to a hundred flecks of scarlet pepper swirling in heavenly porcine oil. Mixed through spaghetti, with just a squeeze of lemon, this may be one of the most perfect pasta sauces of all time.

Spaghetti with ‘Nduja

(some people say this amount of pasta should serve 2 people; I can eat the lot no problem)

200g spaghetti
1 generous heaped tablespoon nduja sausage (it will keep for months in the fridge, too)
Half a small white onion, finely chopped
A knob of butter
A squeeze of lemon juice
A few leaves of parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper

Cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling salted water. Meanwhile, melt the butter and soften the onions it. When they are translucent, melt in the nduja. Add a squeeze of lemon and some salt and pepper.

When the spaghetti is cooked, spoon 2 tablespoons of the cooking water into the sauce, then drain the pasta. Mix the sauce with the spaghetti and serve, scattered with the parsley.

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  • Reply Chris September 30, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    Well that looks a bit fucking awesome doesn’t it.

  • Reply The Graphic Foodie September 30, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Beautiful spaghetti twirls by the way! Very neat 🙂

  • Reply Tori @eat-tori September 30, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Man I love that stall. My favourite is adding some chopped cherry tomatoes and using it as a base for baked eggs. Cures a hangover pretty quick smart.

  • Reply thelittleloaf September 30, 2011 at 1:19 pm

    N’duja is delicious…I first tried it at l’Anima a few years ago but recently it seems to have become seriously popular. Putting it in pasta is perfect and agree, could easily wolf down a 200g bowl by myself…especially looking at those delicious pics 🙂

  • Reply Lizzie September 30, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    I love oil-dressed pastas for a change to the more saucy ones; this looks delicious.

    (Thinking about food poisoning from a spreadable sossidge gives me the queases.)

  • Reply Andy K September 30, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Hey Helen – great article, nduja rocks!

    I tried this recipe the other day and really enjoyed it. The chickpeas really added to the texture and interest of the dish…

  • Reply emma September 30, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    NOT BAD AT ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Reply Robert September 30, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    Nice find. I’ve never heard of it until now but I want some!

  • Reply Gary @ The Greedy Fork September 30, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    Love pasta. Love sausage. One problem. Where to find this Nduja in Lancashire. Enter sad face 🙁
    I will do my best to find it though 🙂

  • Reply Maunika October 1, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Spicy spreadable sausage sounds lush… would be amazing even smeared on toast and melty cheese. Will have to look out for this, not sure alot of places sell it in Newcastle. Love the colours Helen esp w the herbs & spaghetti x

  • Reply Helen T October 2, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    Sounds delicious, like an alternative to chorizo, but different.

  • Reply Hanna October 3, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    That looks utterly delicious, have to try it for myself v. soon!

  • Reply Meatball Micky October 3, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    I love nduja, and this is a great idea. I like it with scrambled eggs to kick start my day, or on crispbread. Quite often I just stuff it in my face as it it is, it never lasts long Chez Micky.

  • Reply Ailsa October 4, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Generally speaking ‘spreadable’ is a bad adjective for a food to have, but I think I want to make an exception for this.

  • Reply Craftilicious October 4, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    OMG – I bet its going to be something else I can’t get my hands up in the grim and backwards north (I’m allowed to say that I’m a northerner!) I am just going to start having to drive to London with a LARGE cool box once a month!!!
    Tara x

  • Reply zuko October 6, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Hi Helen, long-time-lurker-first-time-poster here – love the blog!

    Made this the other night and loved it, the lemon really cuts through the chili nicely.

    For anyone struggling to find nduja, they’ve just started doing it in Waitrose, in the cooked meats section.

    • Helen
      Reply Helen October 6, 2011 at 3:21 pm

      So glad you like it! And thanks very much for the tip of about Waitrose too.

  • Reply dcnoisemaker October 6, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    Best way I’ve eaten nduja recently is at Brunswick House Cafe where Jackson Boxer and Nick Balfe are serving it spread thinly on sourdough toast, grilled slightly to melt it and then the meaty, crispy, spicy yumminess is sexed up even further with goat’s curd and drizzled with Camberwell honey! An amazing breakfast if ever there was one! Easy to get too without even having to leave the sofa! Very cheap too! The nduja di spilinga is only £2.50 per sausage approx 100g but it goes a very long way as it is seriously spicy!

  • Reply Morella October 25, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    The best place to get ‘Nduja from is The Taste of Calabria, they have the original ‘Nduja, 100% made in Calabria and they post all over the UK..

  • Reply Craftilicious October 27, 2011 at 5:30 pm

    Very happy bunny today – just discovered that unearthed have started to sell this in my local Waitrose – yummy pasta for tea 😀

    • Helen
      Reply Helen October 27, 2011 at 6:32 pm

      Brilliant! I hope it’s the good stuff…

  • Reply Giorgio November 9, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    ‘Nduja is delicious. It was called the “caviar of the poor” in Italy ! Cheap cuts of meat were used to produce it. That’s why it was popular among poor classes.

  • Reply Chloe November 27, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Hi – that recipe looks wonderful. I was wondering if you could tell me if Nduja contains tomatoes. I’m allergic to them (sob) and this looks like an ingredient which I could use as a sort-of subsitute to make my diet more varied. Thanks!

    • Helen
      Reply Helen November 27, 2011 at 7:03 pm

      Hi, as far as I know it contains no tomatoes, but I would recommend contacting a supplier because I don’t want to be responsible for some terrible accident!

  • Reply pauline December 22, 2011 at 8:13 pm

    Do check the nduja you use, ours from Lima in Soho was exceptionally hot, even for fire eaters like ourselves. A pretaste could stop you using too much and making the dish all but inedible.

    • Helen
      Reply Helen December 23, 2011 at 7:52 am

      Ha ha! Sorry Pauline, I shouldn’t laugh. Thanks for the tip though!

  • Reply Vendavel January 11, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    There’s an open packet of njuda in my fridge… it’s been there over a month… chow or bin?

    • Helen
      Reply Helen January 11, 2012 at 2:01 pm

      Personally, I would chow! I think it lasts for ages. If it doesn’t smell bad or have mould on it, definitely chow.

  • Reply the_junes January 25, 2012 at 11:30 am

    Some nduja news. They do an nduja pizza at Pizza Lupa, SE1. Bit far for SE15 delivery sadly.

    • Helen
      Reply Helen January 25, 2012 at 11:31 am

      They even do one in Pizza Express!!

  • Reply davide July 13, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    like nduja very much since my uncle’s relatives brought back some fro calabria! years later found something similar in Mallorca, sobrasada!
    will replicate this pasta with some of it, surely can’t go wrong alongside some argie Malbec!

  • Reply Sir Arthur January 4, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    There’s actually a really good version of this on the menu at Cantina on Shad Thames – it’s got more sauce and less pasta than yours though (and uses some sort of frilly Pappardelle).

    • Helen
      Reply Helen January 5, 2013 at 11:10 am

      There’s a good restaurant on Shad Thames?! 😉

  • Reply Eleanor November 24, 2015 at 6:15 pm

    Thanks for helpful recipe. Planning to.adapt to include purple sprouting broccoli for a variation on orecchiette con cima di rape….and using nduja made by an enterprising guy in Hackney Wick!

  • Reply Bob Shorts June 25, 2016 at 8:50 pm

    I spread some anchovy butter on crostini and a smear of njuda on top and into toaster oven to melt everything a bit. As they say in Amsterdam, Lekker.

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