I was introduced to ‘Nduja a couple of years ago while I was working on a project for a boutique butcher. He had just started stocking the brand Salumi Australia; they were making it as part of their range of delicious salumi. He asked me to come up with a recipe using ‘nduja, and so I did. And since then I’ve used it in many different ways.
Now, for those who are not familiar with it, ‘nduja is a chilli infused spreadable salami with a fiery red colour, originating in South East Calabria. It’s normally crumbled over pizza, stirred into a sauce or spread on a panini. It’s incredibly hot, so a little goes a long way, but for those who love it it becomes quite addictive.
In this recipe I’ve used it to flavour a tomato sauce with shellfish and fregula.
Prawns and clams are simmered in the spicy sauce, then combined with al dente fregula, and finished off with a big hit of fresh lemon juice. Mop up the mildly spicy sauce with crusty bread and don’t be tempted to add any more than 1tbsp of ‘ndjua to the sauce unless you like it very hot. Believe me, it’s enough.
Also, if you can’t find fregula (a type of pasta from Sardinia similar to Israeli couscous), use orecchiette pasta instead, it’s great too.
Tomato ‘Nduja Sauce with Prawns, Clams and Fregula
- 500g large green prawns
- 350g cleaned clams
- Olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, divided, 2 smashed, 2 thinly sliced
- 1 fresh bay leaf
- 1cup tomato passata
- 1tbsp ‘nduja (I use Salumi Australia)
- 100g fregula
- 1-2 lemons
- One bunch parsley, chopped
- Freshly ground black pepper
Peel and devein prawns, saving heads and shells. Chop prawns roughly, and set aside.
Heat 1tbsp oil in a medium saucepan over a medium high heat and cook smashed garlic, stirring until golden, about one minute. Add reserved prawn shells and heads and cook, stirring until pink, about two minutes. Add bay leaf and two cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until stock is slightly reduced and flavourful, 8-10 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve into a large bowl and discard solids. This makes approximately 1.5 cups.
Heat 2tbsp oil in a large skillet over a medium heat. Add sliced garlic and cook, stirring until fragrant, about one minute. Remove skillet from heat and carefully add tomatoes and 1.5 cups stock (mixture may sputter). Return to heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce begins to thicken, about two minutes. Add ‘nduja, working it well into the sauce. Reduce heat and simmer two-three minutes. Stir in clams, cover pan with lid, and cook until they have opened, about two minutes. Remove, and discard any that are still closed. Keep warm. Stir in prawns and cook until opaque, and return clams to pan.
Meanwhile, cook fregula in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup of cooking water. Add fregula to the sauce with the chopped parsley and black pepper to taste. Stir in 1/4 cup of cooking water, a big squeeze of lemon juice, and serve in shallow bowls with more lemon and olive oil on the side.