RECIPES:
Oct 12, 2021

Nduja Pasta Recipe

Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 40 mins
This tomato sauce-based pasta recipe is made with a spreadable meat sausage, nduja to enhance its flavor.

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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. 

Nduja Pasta Recipe

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

Nduja

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. 

Shallot

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.

Tomatoes

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

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

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. 

Pasta

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. 

Instructions

  1. Sauté shallot and garlic. Heat a medium saucepan over heat, add the oil and heat through. Then, add the shallot and sauté, stirring occasionally until the shallots are soft, about 5 minutes. Next, add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. 
  2. Stir in tomatoes and simmer. Stir in the tomato paste followed by the peeled tomatoes. Then simmer until the tomatoes start to break down, about 20 minutes. 
  3. Blend sauce. Remove from heat and add to a blender. Blend until the tomatoes are smooth then return to the pot and simmer over medium-low heat for about an additional 15 minutes. 
  4. Add nduja. Then add the nduja, stirring with a wooden spoon and breaking up any large pieces until dissolved into the sauce. Season to taste with salt.
  5. Cook pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium high heat. Pour in the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid then drain the pasta and return to the pot.
  6. Add pasta water. Stir ½ cup of the pasta cooking water into the sauce followed by the Parmesan cheese.
  7. Add sauce to pasta. Ladle the sauce over the pasta, adding more pasta cooking water if needed.
  8. Serve. Serve immediately topped with basil and additional Parmesan cheese.
Tomato sauce recipe

Tips and Tricks for How to Make Nduja Pasta

Substitutes for this recipe
  • While many recipes use tomato passata, cooked tomatoes passed through a food mill, I use the more commonly found whole peeled tomatoes and crush them by hand. 
  • To add some more vegetables to this recipe try blanching and adding a bitter green like rapini – this will pair well with the spice of the sausage. 
  • Omit the Parmesan cheese to make this sauce dairy-free.
How to make this recipe ahead of time

I recommend storing this sauce on its own before adding the pasta. This will allow for the best product after reheating. 

What to serve with this pasta 

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.

How to store the sauce 

Store the sauce in an airtight container and you can keep it refrigerated for up to a week. 

Why you should use pasta cooking water

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. 

Nduja Pasta Recipe

Other Tomato Sauce Pasta Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:

Nduja Pasta Recipe

Print Pin
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium shallots sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 3 ounces nduja
  • Kosher salt as needed
  • ¾ pound tubular pasta rigatoni, ziti, penne or Pipe Rigate
  • ½ cup Parmesan plus additional for serving
  • 2 tablespoons chiffonade basil

Instructions:

  • Heat a medium saucepan over heat, add the oil and heat through. Add the shallot and sauté, stirring occasionally until the shallots are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the tomato paste followed by the peeled tomatoes. Simmer until the tomatoes start to break down, about 20 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and add to a blender. Blend until the tomatoes are smooth then return to the pot and simmer over medium-low heat for about an additional 15 minutes.
  • Then add the nduja, stirring with a wooden spoon and breaking up any large pieces until dissolved into the sauce. Season to taste with salt.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium high heat. Pour in the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking liquid then drain the pasta and return to the pot.
  • Stir ½ cup of the pasta cooking water into the sauce followed by the Parmesan cheese.
  • Ladle the sauce over the pasta, adding more pasta cooking water if needed.
  • Serve immediately topped with basil and additional Parmesan cheese.

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