Because this nduja pasta recipe is made with a few ingredients that can be stored in your pantry, it makes a great easy weeknight pasta dish.
The high fat content of the nduja allows it to emulsify with the tomato base, creating a rich pasta sauce made silky with the addition of pasta water and salty Parmesan. The addition of the spicy sausage makes for a unique and interesting spicy pasta dish using a few simple ingredients. Since nduja doesn’t need to be cooked, and is fermented, it lasts a long time in the fridge and can easily be added to this dish.
This is a spicy, spreadable fermented pork sausage from Calabria, Italy. ‘Nduja, as it is known in Italy, was created for those with limited resources – farmer’s would make it out of the remaining parts of the pig after selling off the most expensive cuts and seasoning it with Calabrian chilies. When it comes down to it ‘nduja is composed of three parts fat to one part lean muscle, making it spreadable. It comes jarred or encased and because it’s a fermented salumi, it has a certain funky quality. It’s also a great option to spread the spicy sausage on bread or use as the base of pizza.
Shallots have a mild, slightly sweet flavor. If needed, swap in yellow or red onion in this recipe. The general rule of thumb is 3 medium shallots equal 1 medium onion.
Canned whole peeled tomatoes are extremely versatile. They are picked when ripe, then cooked and peeled before they are canned and packed in tomato juice or tomato puree. They have a rich tomato flavor perfect for tomato sauces. Look for cans with no preservatives – this way they break down quickly into the sauce.
Tomato paste is concentrated tomatoes that have been cooked down until they become a thick, dense paste. I try to buy tubes of tomato paste rather than small cans. The tubes allow you to reseal and keep the paste for later (they last a long time) resulting in less waste.
Parmesan-Reggiano is definitely one of my favorite cheeses. It’s a hard cow’s milk cheese aged for different lengths of time. I’d recommend buying a roughly cut piece of wrapped cheese from the grocery store – it’s typically a higher quality cheese.
Tubular pasta shapes like rigatoni, ziti, penne or Pipe Rigate are perfect for this recipe because they capture the blended tomato sauce well. They are great with hearty tomato sauces such as this one.
I recommend storing this sauce on its own before adding the pasta. This will allow for the best product after reheating.
This rich pasta dish is best paired with a simple salad like arugula and endive salad with candied pine nuts or caesar salad with chili oil croutons with cheesy garlic flatbread for soaking up the sauce.
Store the sauce in an airtight container and you can keep it refrigerated for up to a week.
I always recommend reserving some of the pasta cooking water before draining. The salty, starchy water that the pasta is cooked in adds flavor and helps to bind the sauce to the pasta, making a rich and silky sauce.
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