‘Nuduja (pronounced ‘nduya) is an Italian pork salumi (cured sausage), made with pig’s head (but not cheeks – they are use for guanciale), shoulder and belly, plus salt, roasted red chilli peppers and spices. The mixture is squeezed into a pig’s intestine, which is tied up and smoked then left to cure for up to 2 years. ‘Nduja comes from Calabria in the south of Italy and takes it’s name from French Andouille and the Angevins who ruled the region in the 13th Century. Add the letter “A” to ‘nduja and swap the “J” for two “L”s and the names become more alike, but that’s where the similarity ends. Later, probably when Calabria was ruled by the Crown of Aragon (sponsors of Columbus’ voyage to the New World) chilli peppers were brought back to Europe, and the Calabrians added them to their ‘nduja, which became a unique salumi in it’s own right.

‘Nduja is a soft, spreadable salumi and looks a lot like sobrasada from the Balearic Islands (also part of the Aragonese empire, back in the day), however, the taste is completely different. Sobrasada has a very strong salty pimentón flavour to it, whereas ‘nduja has a hot chilli taste that’s more fiery, less smokey and will put hair on your chest!

I came across ‘nduja a couple of years ago in my local pizzeria, Saponara, where they use it in their picante pizza – I like it so much I’ve never gotten round to trying another topping, so when I came across the salumi whole, at my butcher’s, I had to have one!

spread on toast

So what does one do with a 1lb salumi? Firstly cut a bit off and spread it on crusty bread or toast, like paté – it will burn your tongue and palate and then you’ll crave more! Next, take a tip from the Italians and add some ‘nduja to pasta sauce.

‘Nduja Ragu recipe (serves 4):

1 large onion (chopped)
6 pieces of garlic (finely chopped)
1 red or green pepper (chopped)
1 courgette (chopped)
5 medium tomatoes (grated) or a tin
6 mushrooms (chopped)
a handful of aceitunas (green olives stuffed with anchovies)
4 slices of smoked streaky bacon (chopped)
a 1 inch slice of nduja
1 teaspoon of rosemary, sage and thyme (a few sprigs of each), coarse sea salt and black peppercorns ground in a mortar and pestle
2 bay leaves
a dessertspoonful of tomato purée
a large squirt of anchovy paste
a splash red wine vinegar
a slug of extra virgin olive oil for frying

sliced ‘nduja

Start by frying the onion in olive oil until it goes translucent. Add the chopped streaky bacon and let it change colour. Meanwhile, slice off about an inch (2.5cm) of ‘nduja and remove the outer casing. Note the visible pieces of red pepper in the slice above.

bacon, onion and ‘nduja

Break off little chunks of the salumi into the bacon and onion.

stirred in

The ‘nduja will melt in the pan and mix in with the other ingredients. Next add garlic, courgette and the red or green pepper, followed by mushrooms and grated tomato. Sprinkle on the ground herbs, two bay leaves, squeeze in the tomato purée and anchovy paste along with a splash of red wine vinegar.


Give the mixture a good stir before adding a handful of aceitunas verdes rellenas de anchoa (olives stuffed with anchovies).

‘nduja ragù

Cook on a low heat for 20 – 30 minutes and serve with pasta and grated parmesan.

‘Nuduja Pizza recipe:


Having a good supply of ‘nduja gave me lots of opportunity to experiment, so I used some for home made pizza. Above, I made a marinara type sauce with 6 large tomatoes (blanched and peeled), chopped garlic, basil leaves, red wine vinegar a squirt of tomato purée and anchovy paste, plus an inch of ‘nduja broken up and stirred in.

‘nduja pizza

Bake the base blind (5 minutes at the bottom of a very hot oven), for a more crispy artesanal style pizza. Brush the hot dough with marinara and a topping of your choice. I used chorizo slices, mozzarella and kalamata olives. Bake the pizza on the bare bars of the oven, towards the bottom, for 30 – 40 minutes or until it has browned nicely.

rabbit and ‘nduja

…and I also cooked an ‘nduja and rabbit stew with dried broad beans, using this recipe. I broke yet another inch of ‘nduja in with the translucent onions, instead of chorizo, then skipped the pimentón and swapped the broad beans (pre soaked and cooked in a pressure cooker) for chickpeas.

About Mad Dog

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21 Responses to ‘Nduja

  1. Eha says:

    Fabulous ragu recipe! Methinks it may have been you a few years back who intrigued me with the unusual name. Had not done anything about it – well, fast homework: it sees there are over 60 stores/butchers in the Sydney Basin who keep – since none are on line or even vaguely close have just phoned a gf coming for lunch tomorrow to do a wee bit of shopping for me . . . the sausage must have quite some flavour since you use so little of it in the recipe . . .can’t wait to try 🙂 !

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Eha – I hope you manage to get one. It is a pretty fantastic salumi with a very big kick! I would imagine that Italian butchers or delis would be your best bet.

  2. Eha says:

    . . . To Down Under readers: would you believe, most Harris Farm and IGA branches keep (Mad: large supermarket chains!), besides David Jones and every well-known big deli – naturally no idea of quality at the moment . . . yes, well, we are not known as a ‘foodie nation’ for nought . . . 🙂 !!!

  3. Ron says:

    What an interesting salumi and one I must say I have never run across or heard of. Your Nduja Ragu sounds just plain wonderful. So, happily for me, another needed ingredient search.

    • Mad Dog says:

      Hi Ron – this is to die for, so definitely worth buying. I think you can get it via Amazon and there’s even some available in a jar, though I’ve read that it’s not as good potted. It does keep for a long time, so should travel well.

  4. andreamynard says:

    Only recently tried nduja and loving it too, your pasta and pizza recipes look fab.

  5. I suppose I’m a little bit biased as my dad was from Calabria and I started eating this when I was very young. We used to have to bring it back from Italy but luckily for us now, a little pizzeria in Bexhill uses it and they have now become our “dealer”! Great recipes, it’s becoming quite well known now, and rightly so!

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Tanya – that’s lucky! I’m amazed that such a fantastic sausage has gone unnoticed for so long, though in spite of great write ups in recent years, it’s still hard to find even in London.

  6. Karen says:

    An interesting salami and one I’ll have to look for. Your nduja dishes sound hot but very delicious.

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