Pasta with ‘Nduja, Greens, and Stracciatella

‘Nduja is some kind of wunderkind: it’s spicy, rich and porky and fatty, even a little bit smoky. In this dead simple pasta dish we pair it with some hearty greens, so it’s even healthy too. Kinda? Right? It even makes it’s own sauce, in some sort of cosmically destined yin-yang meld with the truly delicious stracciatella from Wolf Meadow Farm! We use conchiglie (large shells) here, but any chunky short noodle will do ya. Get to it!

  • 1 lb broccoli rabe
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 1 lb chunky pasta (like conchiglie, rigatoni, etc.)
  • Pecorino romano cheese, grated
  • 2 to 4 oz ‘nduja
  • 1 lb stracciatella, including the cream (substitute 8 oz mozzarella, torn into chunks)
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a full boil. When it has come to a boil, prepare an ice bath. Trim the stems of the broccoli rabe, if necessary. (You can substitute regular old broccoli, trimmed into florets, or rapini, if desired). Blanch the rabe, working in batches so that the water remains at a boil, until just knife tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer to the ice bath with a strainer. Repeat until all greens have been cooked. Reserve the blanching water for cooking the pasta.
  2. Drain the greens well. (They do not need to be wrung dry; a turn in a salad spinner or blotting with a kitchen towel will do.) Roughly chop them. Warm the olive oil in a large sauté pan, then add the garlic. Sauté until fragrant and just beginning to turn golden, then add the greens. Toss to coat well in the flavorful oil. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat but keep warm.
  3. Break the ‘nduja into small chunks. (Nota bene: 4 oz will yield a very spicy dinner! Delicious, but spicy. You have been warned.) Drain the stracciatella of its cream in a strainer. Grate the pecorino -- about 1 cup of the feathery wisps generated by a microplane grater is good.
  4. Return the water to a rolling boil. Cook the pasta until tender. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water. As the pasta is finishing, bring the greens back to a lively simmer. Drain.
  5. Return the pasta to the cooking pot and toss well with the greens and grated cheese. Off the heat, stir in the ‘nduja and enough cooking liquid to yield a nice saucy consistency. Fold in the drained stracciatella.
  6. Serve in warmed bowls with additional pecorino and crispy browned breadcrumbs.
Dave Viola