Pasta with cavolo nero and ’nduja
This is a gorgeous, wintry, rib-sticker of a dish, just right to bolster and brighten where skies are dark and the air is chill. If you haven’t come across ’nduja before (pronounced en-doo-ya, with the ‘en’ mumbled, and the stress on the ‘doo’), I can best describe it as being like a fabulously fiery salami pâté, or a chorizo-ish spread (I can only imagine that ’nduja is a Calabrian rendition of the French andouille), and once you start cooking with it, you won’t be able to stop.
- 1 large floury potato, such as Rooster, peeled and cut into 1cm/½in cubes
- 500g/1lb 2oz cavolo nero or other kale or dark leafy greens, leaves pulled from stalks and torn into small pieces
- 500g/1lb 2oz giant fusilli (fusilloni)
- 60g/2¼oz unsalted butter
- 150g/5½oz ’nduja (see Recipe Tip)
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
Fill a large pan with cold water, and add salt with abandon. Add the potato cubes and bring to the boil.
Once the water in the pan has come to a boil, cook the potato cubes for 10 minutes. Add the pasta and give it a good stir. Once the water has reached boiling point again, add the cavolo nero. Set your timer for just under the recommended cooking time on your packet of pasta, though start checking before that, and get on with the sauce.
You need a pan that’s big enough to take all the ingredients later, with room to toss the pasta. Melt the butter gently over low–medium heat, add the ’nduja and stir it into the butter to make a sauce.
When the pasta’s nearly ready, scoop out a cupful of the cooking water, and then add about 3–4 tablespoons to the 'nduja, and stir it in.
Then, once the pasta is done and the cavolo nero soft, drain and tip into the ’nduja pan; it doesn’t matter if the fusilli and greens are wet. Turn everything together carefully, as your pan will be very full indeed, and add more of the pasta cooking water as needed to help emulsify the sauce.
Pour over the extra virgin olive oil and stir, adding more if wished, and serve immediately. Bring the bottle to the table, to pour, greenly and greedily, over your pasta as you eat.
If you can’t find ’nduja, or are vegetarian, then do use harissa in its stead, though you probably won’t need more than a tablespoon or two, and I’d add a generous handful of halved cherry tomatoes, frying them in the butter until they give up some of their gloop; should you be vegan, use 60ml of olive oil in place of the butter.