Pasta with Nduja & Bitter Greens
Author Notes: Pasta with a small amount of meat and greens (bitter or otherwise) is a classic southern Italian template, from Abruzzese sausage with broccoli raab to Neapol (…more) —Sara Jenkins
- 1pound artisanal Italian pasta (rigatoni, penne, ziti, shells)
- 1/4pound nduja (spicy Calabrian sausage)
- 1bunch broccoli raab (or other hearty cooking green such as kale)
- 1/4cup olive oil
- 1/2cup grated aged pecorino cheese (ideally something strong and hard from the Abruzzi or Sardinia)
- 1/4cup fried bread crumbs (optional)
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and add plenty of salt. (I like to make my blanching and cooking water salty as the sea.) When the water comes to a boil, blanch the broccoli raab for about 4-5 minutes, then remove them from the water without draining it. Keep the water in the pot because you are going to cook the pasta in the same water. Let the drained greens cool in a single layer, on a paper towel-lined tray.
- Meanwhile take the nduja (a spicy sausage with a spreadable consistency, made of ground pork and Calabrian chilis), and heat the olive oil gently over medium heat in a heavy pot. (My old, faithful Le Creuset pot works well for for this.) Crumble the sausage in, stirring it around and breaking it apart until it is all broken up and cooked out, and the oil is stained dark red from the chili. Take your greens and rough cut them into pieces of about 2” in length, or about the same length as your pasta. Fry them up with the sausage until warmed through. Add a tablespoon or two of pasta cooking water to the dish to smooth it out and make it saucy, shaking the pan and greens around so that the fat starts to emulsify with the water.
- Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions in the same water the broccoli or greens were cooked in (brought back to a boil and added to, if necessary). Drain the pasta and toss with the sausage and greens in the pot or in a large bowl. Add half the cheese and toss. Add the breadcrumbs, if using, and toss. Serve with the remaining cheese, passed around at the table. Eat, as always, immediately.