Despite being born in Lombardy, I have two more identities in my heart: one linked to Calabria and one to Trentino Alto Adige. Both of these regions have a very different culinary history but both share the passion for their typical produce. For this recipe, I chose two ingredients which come from Calabria: ‘nduja and fileja.
320 g fileja pasta
100 g ‘nduja from Spilinga
1 kg cherry tomatoes or 800 g passata
100 g red onions from Tropea
50 g pure olive oil
A pinch of salt
8 basil leaves
Calabrian pecorino cheese to grate on top
Start by peeling the onions, cutting them in half longitudinally and chop them into thin slices following this same direction. Heat a pan with some oil on the hob, add the onions and cook them at very low heat for 15 minutes.
Cut the cherry tomatoes in half (or use the passata) and add them to the pan once the onions have softened. Cook the sauce, until it has thickened, then add the ‘nduja to the pan, letting it melt on a medium-low heat.
Add salt if needed, then shred a few basil leaves with your hands, mix them in and turn off the heat: your sauce is ready! Put a large pot with salted water on the hob and bring it to the boil, then add the fileja pasta and cook it. Cook the pasta according to the recommended timings on the packaging, but make sure to strain it while it’s still very “al dente”.
Add the strained pasta to the pan and mix it with the sauce. Serve the pasta with freshly grated Calabrese pecorino cheese and basil leaves on top.
Sonia's Food Memory
‘Nduja is a type of cured meat, whose bright red colour points to its true nature – it’s really spicy! ‘Nduja originates from Spilinga (but has spread throughout Calabria) and what makes it special is the mix of spices and hot Calabrian chilli. I often use ‘nduja in the kitchen to give an unexpected twist to any dish or to spice up fish dishes in particular.
My recipe book lacked a main course, therefore I immediately thought that ‘nduja could be a perfect match for fileja. Fileja is a type of pasta made in Calabria, shaped with a metal rod. The shape and grain of the pasta holds the sauce really well, making this a colourful plate that combines my favourite flavours from Calabria.