Nduja, bell pepper and basil risotto

NdujaRisotto © J Horak-Druiff 2011

If you enjoy this recipe, please VOTE FOR ME in the Nduja challenge on Facebook – voting open till Friday 19 August!


It’s often been said that the world can be divided into two types of people – although just where the dividing line lies has been the subject of much heated debate!  Some suggestions over the years have included:

  • realists and fantasists;
  • those who make things simple and those who make things complicated;
  • those who achieve things and those who claim to have achieved things;
  • optimists and pessimists;
  • those who follow the rules and those who make the rules; and
  • those who give and those who take.



Me?  I think the world can neatly be divided into people who laugh at unintentionally rude sounding phrases and those who don’t (but roll their eyes at people like me!).  Call it a juvenile sense of humour, if you must, but I can find humour in the most unlikely situations.  My computer geek friends talking about floppies and stiffies (or hardware and software); golfers and all their talk about balls and shafts; people ordering a stiff one in a bar; my friend Donald arriving at a barbecue at my place via the back garden gate on Saturday and telling us he came in via the back passage – you get the picture.  Or the time when I was at Pizza Express with a bunch of girlfriends ordering pizza, and the unsuspecting waiter asked “would you like some soft, spicy Italian sausage on your pizza, madam?”.  As you can imagine, utter chaos erupted at our table shortly afterwards. So what do you suppose I said when I was asked if I would like some of this soft spicy Italian sausge to be delivered to my door, to be enjoyed alone, in the privacy of my own home?




Yes, yes, YES, oh YESSSSS! ;o) (and, as always, I’ll have what she’s having…!).

Nduja is a soft, spicy, spreadable Italian sausage considered one of the most famous typical foods from the southern region of Calabrian. Nduja originated in the small town of Spilinga and its surrounding areas, although it is now made throughout the mountainous Monte Poro region. The name nduja is a corruption of the French word andouille, a type of spicy sausage made with offal. Nduja is typically made with ground pork including the shoulder, belly and jowl as well as tripe, kneaded together with salt and Calabrian chili pepper, stuffed into natural animal casings.  The sausage is then slightly smoked and allowed to rest and season for a number of months.  But unlike salami, nduja is made to a very soft, spreadable consistancy, and the hot, smoky chilli flavour makes it unlike any other Italian cured sausage you may have tasted – closer to a soft chorizo than a salami.

Unearthed is a company started by three friends in 2008 to share with the world their favourite regional food finds and artisanal products.  Today they offer a range of cheeses, sweets, meat, antipasti, patés and more – including the nduja which they very kindly sent me to try.  I’m submitting this recipe to their nduja challenge where they have challenged four bloggers to come up with their best nduja recipes – voting for your favourite will open soon on the Unearthed Facebook page.  The recipe, even if I say so myself, is quite outstanding.  The nduja and the red wine together give it a rustic, robust flavour that is hard to resist, and the sweetness of the peppers offsets this nicely.  Don’t skip the fresh basil either – the peppery freshness really lifts the entire dish.




NDUJA, PEPPER AND BASIL RISOTTO (serves 2 as a main or 4 as a starter)


90g Unearthed nduja sausage
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 a red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 a yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
300g of risotto rice (Arborio or Carnarolli)
60g Parmesan cheese, grated
150ml red wine
2 tbsp olive oil
20g +20g butter
600ml vegetable stock
2 Tpsb fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
salt and black pepper


Melt 20g of the butter together with the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Add the onion, garlic, peppers and half of the nduja (broken up into small pieces) and sauté until the onion is translucent and the nduja has released some of its red oil.

Add the rice and cook for a minute or two, stirring constantly stir so that each grain is well-coated with oil/butter.  Add the red wine and keep stirring until the liquid has been absorbed almost completely.

Add the hot stock a ladleful at a time (probably about 150-200 ml per ladle).  Keep stirring until each ladleful has been completely absorbed, but do not let the rice dry out and stick to the pot.  Once each ladleful is absorbed, add the next until the stock has all been added.  The rice should be soft but each grain should retain some bite in the centre, perfectly al dente, which should take about 20 minutes.

As soon as the rice is ready, remove from the heat and stir in the remaining 20g of butter, the rest of the nduja (also broken up into small pieces), the grated Parmesan cheese and the basil. Taste and season with salt and black pepper as desired.

Garnish with a little more grated Parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves and serve immediately.

If you liked this risotto, you may also want to try my:

If you enjoyed this recipe, please VOTE FOR ME in the Nduja challenge on Facebook – voting open till Friday 19 August!



If you enjoyed reading this, please consider sharing it using the social media buttons below the post. I'd also love to hear what you thought about this post so please do leave a comment below. Hope to see you again soon!

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. says

    Me? i like the Norwegian spicy variety ;o) But let’s not go there right now. Seriously – the risotto looks incredible! Love the spicy touch to it. I am like you and tend to indulge in my “juvenile sense of humor” with particular zest – who cares about those rolling eyeballs!!

  2. says

    Its good to find humour in life. We all need to laugh a little bit more….and in any case, it exercises more muscles that rolling eyeballs do :) Have never heard of Nduja until this moment…..Never too old and all that jazz…you can definitely teach this old dog a couple of new tricks. But then…you know that don’t you? Awesome risotto and post. I think I might manage to eat something like this soon :)Have a super week. Love you xxx

  3. says

    May I add, all the jokes have a slightly carnal lilt…why am I not surprised? Love tO try some of that Nduja. Love also that it sounds more like an Ndebele word than an Italian one,to me! Gorgeous risotto darling!

  4. says

    I do like the unearthed range – been using their cooking chorizo a lot recently. Certainly going to have to keep an eye out for the njuda.

  5. says

    Hahaha Jeanne, you always crack me up with your writing. Oh yes I can relate to what you write. There were times when I cared what people would think of my behaviour in public but nowadays… hm, I think: no!
    We all only have one life and it is way to short for all the things we long to do… ;o)
    Oh and that risotto looks so tempting! May I have a serving please?

  6. says

    I wish you could get Nduja round where I live. I’ve looked but never seen it. We do have waiters who ask if people like sausage though, I used to be one. Very hard to keep a straight face and pretend you didn’t mean it to be a sexual reference lol

  7. says

    and I won’t even begin to describe some of my conversation with my husband…. but we definitely fall into the same category as you.
    Love this recipe… I love the sound of this sausage and am intrigued. I’d love to try it – never have even heard of it! And I told you I am a risotto fanatic and this is one great recipe!

  8. says

    Oh yes, totally share your dirty mind! 😉 Back passage indeed…
    But this sausage – why have I not heard about this before? Sounds absolutely divine. As does your risotto – after all how could you go wrong with peppers and red wine?

  9. says

    Hi Jeanne, love this risotto, cooked it last night for dinner and the family were suitably impressed. Thankyou. Have to admit though I substituted the Nduja for a different sausage, as I could not buy it anywhere. Have added this recipe to the family menu.

  10. says

    hahahaaa.. thanks for the good laugh that i really needed :) no more comments from my side, but I can readily have this dish!Thanks for introducing me to something new and I am almost reading it as nude after going thru’ your post.. ah! the power of words!

  11. dina says

    thanks for the good laugh that i really needed :) no more comments from my side, but I can readily have this dish!Thanks for introducing me to something new and I am almost reading it as nude after going thru’ your post.. ah! the power of words!