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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33 thoughts on “Spaghetti with ‘Nduja

  1. 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).

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

    1. 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!

  5. ‘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.

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

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. 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

  12. 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.)

  13. 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 :-)


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