If you’ve never heard of Nduja, prepare to be intrigued—and maybe even downright hooked. Though the name might be somewhat difficult to pronounce (for the record, the correct pronunciation is en-doo-ya), the flavor is certainly memorable, and it's popping up more frequently on menus around the globe. This Italian pork delicacy also happens to be spreadable, making it a versatile ingredient for everything from pasta to breakfast dishes. We’re doing a deep dive into nduja's flavor profile, the way it's made, and how it can be used in different dishes. We've even included some fabulous recipes to inspire your next meal!
What is Nduja, and Where Does it Come From?
A spicy, cured pork paste, nduja comes from the Calabrian region of Italy. Its texture is somewhat pâté-like — a result of mincing ingredients such as seasoned pork, salt, peppers, herbs, and spices. Once churned into a soft spread, the nduja is traditionally stuffed into a casing made from cow intestine, and then cured.
What Does Nduja Taste Like, and What is it Used For?
In a nutshell, nduja is a mildly spicy sausage. If you’re really feeling ambitious, you could technically make your own homemade nduja using ingredients such as ground pork shoulder, smoked paprika, minced garlic, and fennel seeds, stuffed in a casing. Of course, one must always include the star of the show: Calabrian chilis or Calabrian chili paste. The trick is obtaining the pâté-like consistency that can rival that of chorizo. This makes nduja an ideal topping for bread!
Offering plenty of versatility, here are a few wonderful uses for nduja when it comes to your culinary endeavors:
- As a pizza topping
- In baked goods such as croissants, savory scones and muffins, or biscuits.
- On a charcuterie board alongside other Italian meats and cheeses, such as salami, soppressata, prosciutto, capicola, asiago, pecorino, and Parmigiano Reggiano.
- For breakfast egg dishes such as an omelet or frittata. (You can even add it to scrambled eggs!)
- In pasta dishes
- On toasted bread
- On a sandwich
- In soups and stews
It's worth noting that nduja has the tendency to absorb the flavors of other refrigerated items (this is due to its higher fat content), so how you're storing it should be taken into consideration. For the most part, nduja's shelf life is roughly one year when refrigerated. To prevent flavor absorption from other items, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, then put it in an airtight container.
- The correct pronunciation of nduja is en-doo-ya.
- Nduja is becoming more popular on menus throughout the culinary world, particularly because it is spreadable and such a versatile ingredient.
- Nduja is mildly spicy in flavor, as it traditionally contains Calabrian chilis.
- There are tons of ways to use nduja in your culinary endeavors, such as breakfast dishes, pasta, pizza toppings, and more.
- Nduja can absorb other flavors in your refrigerator, so storing it in plastic wrap and an airtight storage container is vital to maintaining its integrity.
- Nduja is a spicy, cured pork paste from the Calabrian region of Italy. It is typically comprised of seasoned pork, salt, peppers, herbs, and spices in a casing.
Delicious Nduja Recipes to Try
Eggs in Purgatory
Brunch just got even better, thanks to Nduja's versatility. Popular on Italian breakfast menus, these poached eggs are smothered in a tomato sauce made spicy by nduja's wonderful flavor. Add some creamy eggs (and maybe some wonderfully toasted sourdough), and breakfast is made!
Smoked Brussels Sprouts with Nduja and Hazelnuts
For a vegetable dish that really kicks it up a notch, these Brussels Sprouts are something special. The earthy nuttiness of the hazelnuts, combined with the smoky, spicy flavor of nduja make for a crispy sidekick worth putting on your radar.
Nduja Carbonara Pasta
A traditional Italian pasta dish, Spaghetti Carbonara contains eggs, cheese, and cured pork. Oftentimes, the latter is pancetta or bacon. However, nduja proves to be a worthy substitute. In fact, it melts into the pasta sauce in a way that truly wows.
Nduja, Ricotta, and Lemon Stuffed Chicken
These gorgeous chicken pieces are stuffed with nduja, ricotta, lemon zest, and thyme. Perfect for the spring season (or anytime, really), this dish is savory and spectacular.
- 12 oz (340g) spaghetti
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 oz (85g) nduja, crumbled
- 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
- 1/4 cup black olives, sliced
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
- Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving
- Cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic and sauté until fragrant.
- Add crumbled nduja to the skillet, breaking it up with a spoon as it cooks.
- Once the nduja is melted and the oil is infused with its flavor, add chopped sun-dried tomatoes and sliced black olives to the skillet.
- If you like some heat, sprinkle red pepper flakes into the mixture.
- Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
- Toss the cooked spaghetti into the skillet, ensuring it's well-coated with the nduja mixture.
- Garnish with fresh parsley and serve immediately with grated Parmesan cheese on the side.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©FVPhotography/Shutterstock.com.