Thursday, April 28, 2011

Orechiette con ‘Nduja

Last night at my Italian class at the Museo ItaloAmericano (which is currently studying the Italian region of Basilicata), I gave a short talk about Peperoni di Senise, a red pepper that is grown in and around the town of Senise in the southeastern area of Basilicata. See this link for an interesting story about a chili fan’s visit to Senise.

In order to provide a bit more “flavor” for my presentation, I stopped by Barbacco on my way to class and picked up an order of their nduja. Nduja is a spreadable sausage with origins in Calabria, the region bordering Basilicata to the south, and which, at least in the Italian original, often incorporates Peperoni di Senise.

Rosetta Costantino, who teaches Calabrian cooking in Emeryville, and who last year came out with the wonderful cookbook, “My Calabria,” has done this blog post about ndjua. I have borrowed a couple of Rosetta’s photos from that blog to show just how much red pepper the real Calabrian ndjua contains!

I am afraid that Barbacco’s nduja may not measure up to Calabrian standards of spiciness, but it is spicy enough for me and is a wonderful dish.

After last night’s class there was a bit of nduja left over. Barbacco only serves its nduja as an appetizer with some toasted bread, and I had always wanted to try it as a pasta topping as Rosetta shows in her blog – mixed just with a bit of tomato paste. I did just that this evening with some orechiette (sorry, it’s a Pugliese pasta, but at least Puglia also borders on Basilicata). It could not have been easier, and the result was fantastic.

I highly recommend giving that a try!

1 comment:

Claudia said...

I am sitting with the cookbook dreaming of making this - and am too American with my spicy pepper eating. My grandmother (from Basilicata) would be horrified.