A little dab ‘nduja

Posted by Anita on 06.03.09 6:19 PM

(c)2009 AEC *all rights reserved*I first read about ‘nduja — a red-hot Italian meat paste that’s pronounced “en-DOO-ya” — in Saveur magazine, ages ago. Despite being the sort of foodstuff that’s right up my alley (hello, chiles and pork… together?!), I never seemed to be able to put my hands on the stuff. We’d heard rumors of a stall at London’s Borough Market selling ‘nduja, but our travels there never seemed to line up with their production. It seemed we’d have to make a trip to Calabria for the real thing, or go without.

All that changed last month, with the introduction of locally made ‘nduja from Chris Cosentino’s Boccalone Artisan Meats. This spicy, spreadable salami’s quickly become the darling of the Bay Area carnivores, complete with an adorable nickname and mouth-watering coverage in all the hip spots.

But as delicious as it is when simply spread on a slice of baguette or a cracker, it seemed sacrilegious to snarf down such a long-sough treasure as an appetizer. Searching for other options, I came up with Gina DePalma’s very loose recollection of an ‘nduja-centric pasta dish she whipped up in her Roman kitchen. Despite not being much of a recipe — it lacked both measurements and timing cues — our first attempt at reproducing it turned out incredibly well, if I do say so myself. (You don’t have to take my word for it: Our friend Matthew, a former restaurant critic for the Seattle Times, pronounced it “as good as anything I had in a restaurant” during his visit to San Francisco.)

Now, I’m not sure I’d pick this humble pasta over an evening at SPQR or Contigo, but the dish was far more delicious than the effort it took to whip together. We nearly always have some dried pasta and a frozen container of leftover beans in the freezer; if I just keep a package of ‘nduja around, we’ll never lack a quick, weeknight supper.

The hardest part of the recipe may be getting your hands on the ‘nduja, which isn’t hard at all if you live in or near San Francisco: They sell it at the Boccalone Salumeria at the Ferry Building. For those of you farther afield, there’s always mail order (or a trip to Calabria?). Once you get your hands on the necessary ingredients, free to wing it with the ratios, just as we did. With such flavorful ingredients, I’m sure it’ll be just as good.

(c)2009 AEC *all rights reserved*(c)2009 AEC *all rights reserved*(c)2009 AEC *all rights reserved*(c)2009 AEC *all rights reserved*(c)2009 AEC *all rights reserved*

Pasta e Fagioli with ‘Nduja
- adapted from Gina DePalma

1 cup dry white beans
1 small onion, diced
olive oil
1 sprig rosemary
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper, to taste

1 carrot, peeled (if needed) and diced
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced coarsely
4 oz (1/2 chub) cured ‘nduja, broken into chunks
8 oz dry small pasta, such as shells or ditalini
more olive oil, for garnish
hard Italian-style grating cheese, such as Pecorino

Soak the beans in enough water to cover by double their height, overnight if possible. When beans are soaked, heat a medium saucepan over medium-low heat; saute the onion in a good amount of olive oil until soft but not brown. Add the beans, their soaking liquid, rosemary, and bay. Bring to a hard boil for a few minutes, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook until beans are beginning to become tender, but still firm. (This will take anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 hours, depending on the age of your beans and the length of their soaking.) Add the salt and pepper to taste, and simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes. At this point, you can discard the herbs and cool the beans in their liquid for later use.

When ready to bring the dish together: If you’ve made the beans ahead, gently warm them in their liquid in a small saucepan. Cook the pasta, stopping a minute or two before the cooking time on the package; drain and set aside. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet and add 2T olive oil. Saute the carrots and celery until soft; add the garlic and saute another minute. Add the ‘nduja, pressing to break it up and melt it as it heats. Add the beans and a small amount of their cooking liquid to the ‘nduja pan, along with the cooked pasta. If the mixture is dry, add more bean liquid until it’s wet; simmer a few minutes to allow the flavors to come together.

Divide the pasta into two or three warmed bowls. Drizzle with olive oil and top with shredded cheese.

One Local Summer 2009This recipe is our entry for the inaugural week of One Local Summer 2009, hosted by Farm to Philly, with Western Region posts graciously recapped by Columbus Foodie. Just like last year, we’ll be exploring and honoring the foods from our local farmers and producers with at least one meal each week made from 100% local ingredients. We’re not declaring any exemptions this time — other than salt and spices — and our radius will be 100 miles.

Farmers and food artisans who created the ingredients for this week’s meal:
Iacopi, Half Moon Bay: Italian butter beans
Catalán Family Farm, Hollister: Onions
Bariani, Sacramento: Olive oil
Star Route, Bolinas: Carrots
Chue’s Farm, Fresno: Celery and garlic
Boccalone, Oakland: ‘Nduja
Eduardo’s, San Francisco: Pasta shells
Joe Matos, Santa Rosa: St. George cheese
….plus rosemary and bay leaf from our garden

cooking, locavore, meat, One Local Summer, recipes



Comment by Eddie

This sounds fantastic…but I’m not entirely sure that anything requiring soaking dried beans counts as a weeknight supper.

Posted on 06.03.09 at 9:22PM

Comment by Anita

Well, to be fair, I did offer instructions for making the beans ahead. And I also mentioned that we almost always have a container of cooked beans in the freezer. I usually soak and cook the entire pound of beans the first time around.

Posted on 06.03.09 at 9:23PM

Comment by Jennifer Hess

Gorgeous – from the moment I saw the photos in your flickr feed, I hoped a post would follow. :) Now I need to track down some ‘Nduja.

Posted on 06.04.09 at 8:19AM

Comment by cookiecrumb

Mm, dude! Yah!
Thanks for the whole post. It made me hungry.
Of course, now I’m wondering how to MAKE ‘nduja. (Hell, my dad makes chorizo, right?)

Posted on 06.04.09 at 11:17AM

Comment by Mrs. L

So close yet so far. Not able to get up to SF anytime soon. Maybe they’ll start to sell it in the South Bay at some point? Fingers crossed!

Posted on 06.05.09 at 12:51PM

Comment by kenekaplan

Pasta con ‘nduja is incredible, and that include pizza! First thing I do after arriving in Calabria is get a gelato and make sure we have pane e ‘nuja!

Just be careful not to eat too much at one time, or in one week :).

Posted on 06.13.09 at 12:43PM

Comment by Sean

I am in love with this stuff: Rich, peppery, slightly sour and all around delicious. I practically want to use it as a body rub. :)

Posted on 06.16.09 at 10:25AM

Comment by we are never full

oh how i was hoping for a bit more food porn with this post. i wanna see that nduja smeared on baguette, a plate or even your hand! i think food porn and nduja are synonymous.

Posted on 06.16.09 at 3:51PM

Comment by denise (chez danisse)

oh yes…you even used my favorite pasta–fantastic!

Posted on 06.19.09 at 9:02AM

Comment by Tea

I am eating this right now (with the addition of some slivered kale because I cannot overcome my vegetable-centric childhood). Whoa boy, is it GOOD!

Posted on 11.05.09 at 8:22PM

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[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tea, Tea. Tea said: Made @marriedwithdinner's pasta with 'nduja for dinner tonight. Whoa nelly but it's good: http://bit.ly/2jnoTa [...]

Posted on 11.05.09 at 9:20PM

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