First, an explanation: Traditional ’nduja (some people say doo-JA like the “JA” in Jamaica; others say en-dew-ya) is like a cross between pepperoni and a spreadable pâté. It’s very flavorful, fatty, and unctuous and comes from the south of Italy. My vegan version, made with olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and the usual sausage/pepperoni flavors of fennel, paprika (both smoked and sweet), and cayenne for heat, comes right close. In fact, I crumbled some over polenta for a vegan friend, and he said, “Wait, is that meat?” and then refused to eat any more. Which I took as a win for the tomato ’nduja and its ability to be a great porky, crumbled sausage-y stand-in to top a pizza or focaccia, stuff a quesadilla, twirl into pasta, or lend anything a bit of meaty funk.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
- 6 ounces mild green olives (choose ones that aren’t too bitter, such as Castelvetrano, Lucques, or Picholine), drained and pitted
- 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes (drained and blotted dry if oil-packed)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground fennel
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt or 1 teaspoon smoked flaky salt
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Baguette slices, for serving
Place the olives on a stack of doubled paper towels and press firmly to dry and press out any juices. Transfer the olives to the bowl of a food processor and add the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic powder, fennel, salt, smoked and sweet paprika, cayenne, and black pepper. Pulverize until well mixed. Taste and add more salt if needed.
The ’nduja will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Excerpted from “Umami Bomb: 75 Vegetarian Recipes That Explode With Flavor” by Raquel Pelzel (Workman Publishing). Copyright 2019. Photographs by Kate Sears.