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Rigatoni with nduja and prawns

Australian Gourmet Traveller and Salvatore Pepe Italian pasta main course recipe for rigatoni with nduja and prawns

By Salvatore Pepe
  • Serves 4
Rigatoni with nduja and prawns
Rigatoni with nduja and prawns

"Nduja is a very hot chilli paste originally made with pork offal and is typical of the southern Italian region of Calabria," says Adelaide's Salvatore Pepe. "The distinctive flavour of the Calabrian version comes from chilli that has been slow-dried in a wood oven, imparting a smoky flavour. The finished paste is encased in intestine and cured like a cacciatore sausage. The fiery spread can be used to give heat and flavour to just about any dish from crostini to pasta. Nowadays, the paste is made using better cuts of meat and although there are as many 'secret' recipes as there are butchers in Calabria, this is a good one, passed on to me by my friend, Francesco, a fourth-generation butcher from my home town of Polistena."


  • 320 gm dried rigatoni
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 20 medium green prawns, peeled
  • 250 gm cherry tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped (loosely packed)
  • 8 basil leaves, coarsely torn
  • 200 gm coppa
  • 140 gm pork back fat (lardo)
  • 2 tbsp sweet smoked paprika
  • ¼ cup dried chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp sea salt


  • 1
    For nduja, coarsely chop coppa and fat. Add remaining ingredients and pass through a mincer or food processor on a fine setting or finely chop with a knife. Nduja will keep refrigerated for about one week. Makes about 250gm.
  • 2
    Cook pasta in a large saucepan of boiling salted water until al dente.
  • 3
    Heat olive oil in a frying pan, add garlic and sauté over low heat until golden, add ¼ cup nduja and sauté for 5 minutes or until it melts. Add prawns and cook until they change colour, then add tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes or until soft.
  • 4
    Drain pasta, add to sauce, add basil and parsely, and combine well. Serve immediately.