Peperoncini – hot chili peppers – and ‘Nduja, the darlings of Calabrian Cuisine, are used to add delightful heat to dishes in Calabria and throughout Italy.
Italians add heat to their food with peperoncini, or hot chili pepper. The peperoncino is a mainstay in Calabrese cuisine and is celebrated each September in the lovely coastal town of Diamante during an almost weeklong peperoncino festival. When you stroll along the streets of Diamante you’ll see locals sitting outside their shops stringing up peperoncini:
Probably the best known dish that uses peperoncini is Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino and many pasta dishes are based on that simple combination of ingredients.
Peperoncini are also used to make sweet desserts like crostata del diavolo.
Olio santo – olive oil with peperoncini – is used to drizzle on dishes to add some heat. Make your own or buy some.
One of the most delicious and aromatic Calabrese foods is ‘nduja, a marriage of peperoncini with a spreadable aromatic pork sausage.
‘Nduja word origin
‘Nduja is often used to spread on bread or crackers, and it’s also frequently incorporated into recipes:
‘Nduja Spaghetti with Slivered Zucchini and Arugula
‘Nduja Stuffed Squid, an April Bloomfield dish at The Spotted Pig in NY
Orecchiette with ‘Nduja, at the Bocca di Lupo restaurant
Where to purchase ‘Nduja
The City Saucery in NYC has created a vegan version of ‘nduja: a delicious thick paste combination of sweet tomatoes and peperoncini, full of heat, flavor and umami.