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I hope you all enjoyed the weekend and I am back with another recipe I just had to share with all of you. This is a definite keeper…
Back in the day, my grandmother lived with us for a time and it was a feast of Italian food every night. She was a fabulous cook and my mother learned many techniques and recipes from her.
Grandma could make a feast from very few ingredients and everything she made was always delicious.
None of my friends ever ate the food that we ate in our home, but everyone wanted the invitation to come over for dinner. The aromas from grandma’s kitchen were spectacular.
She used one ingredient a lot and it was a staple in our home — we called it “pork paste.” Later on, as I got older, I found out the real name is Nduja– pronounced – en-doo-ya.
Grandma added this to some of her sauces or served it on hot semolina or Barese-style Foccacia bread along with various kinds of cheese.
From Wikipedia, a better definition for Nduja…
“Nduja is a spicy, spreadable pork sausage from the region of Calabria in Southern Italy. ‘Nduja is made using meat from the head (minus the jowls, which are used for guanciale), trimmings from various meat cuts, some clean skin, fatback, and roasted Calabrian chili peppers, which give ‘nduja its characteristic fiery taste. These are all minced together, then stuffed in large sausage casings and smoked, creating a soft large sausage, from where the spicy mixture later is scooped out as needed. ‘Nduja is mainly served with slices of bread or with ripe cheese.“
One of the recipes my grandmother added Nduja to was her bucatini pasta (thick spaghetti with a hole inside) with Italian tuna and she added capers to the dish as well. It was so delicious.
One afternoon I was on Instagram and there was a chef (David Rocco) that made the very same dish I had as a child minus the capers. I had a flashback to grandma and decided I had to find Nduja.
Since I live in the Northeast I headed to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, NY, a little Italy of sorts, and in one of the Italian meat stores I found Nduja.
You can find Nduja online or at high-end grocery stores like Eataly. This is how it is packaged.
I followed the Instagram recipe from Chef Rocco with some changes of my own and came up with the recipe below. He just used the Nduja with the tuna and spaghetti, very simple, the way most Italian pasta dishes come together.
I didn’t want the capers that grandma used since Bob is not a fan, so I added some fresh spinach for color.
It was quick and easy and when I served it to Bob he gave me the greatest compliment and said, “Grandma would be so proud of you” and that is all I needed to hear.
I wish she was here so I could have made this favorite dish for her to eat, but somehow in my heart, I feel she knows I made this is her honor.
So, I had to share this recipe with all of you and I hope you try it and enjoy it….
Fusilli with Tuna, Nduja, and Spinach– adapted by a recipe from Chef David Rocco
– 1 package (400g) OR 14 oz of Fusilli
– 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
– 5 garlic cloves, minced
– 1 tsp chili flakes
– 1 tbsp ‘nduja
– 250g or (2) 8 oz cans or jars of Italian tuna
– 1/2 bunch of parsley
– 1/2 cup white wine
– 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino
I added a small bunch of fresh chopped spinach.
I added 1 tsp of Calabrian chili paste and fresh ground black pepper
While your pasta is cooking, make your sauce.
In a large frying pan, add olive oil, garlic, and chili flakes.
I added 1 tsp of Calabrian chili peppers for a little extra spice (optional)
Add in ‘nduja and let it melt.
Then, add in tuna and parsley. Mix well and break up the tuna.
Add a splash of wine and let it reduce.
Mix well and add the fresh spinach (optional)
Add your pasta
Cook together for 30 seconds. Then, turn off the heat. Add in a drizzle of olive oil and pecorino, and toss for 20 seconds.
Plate and add more cheese if you want. Enjoy!
Until my next post, make every day a celebration!