This is a glossy nduja and cheese pasta sauce that you can pair with any pasta shape you like. Nduja is one of those foods that is on trend and popping up in so many restaurants, and for good reason, it is so delicious! It gives a smoky and slight chilli hum to a traditional mac n cheese style sauce and then topped with toasty panko crumbs - perfection!
Hello! I am actually updating this recipe with lots more info! I originally had this recipe named as Nduja Mac and Cheese, which this really isn't! It's just a (super delish) cheesy sauce that is similar to the base of a mac and cheese. I now have an actual recipe for an Nduja Mac and Cheese, which you should also make!
This is one of the absolute first recipes I created so it holds a special place in my heart! It is still one of the ones I make the most myself, it really is the ultimate comfort food. Make sure you don't skip the panko topping, it adds a moreish crunch.
What is nduja?
Nduja is a spreadable sausage paste from Italy. It is red in colour and either comes in a jar or vacuum packed in a bag. The flavour is hard to describe, you have to trust me on this one. It is super savoury and has a kick of chilli but not overly spicy if used sparingly.
I love to use it in pasta sauces as it adds such a unique and delicious flavour note. It really is an amazing secret weapon to have in your fridge. Pop a spoonful into a tomato sauce, throw some into some stir fried or roasted veges, the possibilities are endless!
Most specialty supermarkets should have nduja, just google it in your area. If you really can't find it you could blend some chorizo. I always think if I can find something here in New Zealand you must be able to find it anywhere!
- Panko crumbs - These are optional but make a fantastic crunchy topping. You just toast them in some olive oil then add some fresh herbs. I use thyme or rosemary.
- Milk - I use full fat milk, I have never tried it with a dairy free alternative but let me know if you try!
- Cheese - I use a mix of cheddar and parmesan.
- Nduja - Think you have more than enough info on this now! Start with 1 tablespoon if you aren't sure on the spice level then keep adding more to taste.
How to make this nduja and cheese sauce
- Toast the breadcrumbs in the oil in a frypan until golden.
- Take off the heat and add in the fresh herbs.
- Set aside until serving.
- Over medium - high heat, melt the butter in a medium saucepan then add the flour and whisk into a paste for a minute to cook the flour off.
- Add the milk gradually whisking vigorously to incorporate, making sure you are getting the flour paste from the bottom and sides of the pan.
- Continue to cook, whisking until it begins to simmer then turn the heat down to low before adding the cheese in three lots, whisking in between each lot making sure it has melted in before adding the next. add a splash more milk if you need.
- Take the pot off the heat and stir in the nduja paste. Taste for seasoning, it shouldn't need much salt but add a few big cracks of black pepper.
- You can cook your pasta at the same time then just add it straight into the sauce with a splash of pasta water (¼ cup is a good guide). If you make the sauce first pop a layer of cling film directly over the surface of the sauce to stop a skin forming while you cook your pasta. Gently reheat the sauce then add the pasta in with the pasta water. Either way let the pasta hang out in the sauce for a minute before serving.
- Divide between plates, top with the herby panko crumbs and enjoy!
Tips for success
- You can use any pasta shape you like I tend to serve abut 100g dried pasta per person or 150g fresh per person. I highly recommend trying it out with some hand rolled gnocchi sardi, it's so easy to make and you don't need any equipment.
- When you add the milk and get the sauce bubbling, make sure you lower the temp before you add the cheese, I have it on quite a low heat when adding the cheese and nduja in.
- You can add more or less nduja than what I have specified, just do it to your own taste!
- Watch the panko crumbs closely when you are toasting them, they can catch and burn quite quickly.
Making the gnocchi sardi
Any shape will work for this sauce but check out my recipe for hand rolled gnocchi sardi. It is one of the easiest pasta shapes to make and is relatively quick too. It is made with my semolina pasta dough and has a fantastic chew which I love!
Nduja is a spreadable sausage paste from Italy. It is slightly spicy so add it a little at a time. You can also find vegetarian nduja too.
Check the back of your jar! The one I use says use within 30 days. I have definitely used it after a couple of months and it's been fine. You could always freeze it if you don't think you'll use it within that time.
Use whatever you like the taste of. I use a mix of an easy melting cheddar (just a basic supermarket one!) and parmesan. You could use all cheddar and skip the parmesan if you don't have it. You could try gruyere too.
Want some other sauces to try?
If you loved this Nduja and Cheese Pasta sauce then you simply MUST check out my other nduja recipes. First stop my Nduja Mac and Cheese which is pretty much exactly this recipe but baked with a brown butter topping. Divine! My famous Fast and Delicious Creamy Pasta Sauce is a classic for a reason. For a quick weeknight dinner check out my 3 Ingredient Nduja Butter Pasta.
Made this recipe and loved it?
I would love love LOVE if you could leave me a review down below and let me know what you thought! I love to hear any changes or adaptions you have made too. Also if you put a photo on instagram, please tag me so I can see, it makes my day!Print