What could be more satisfying than this recipe for Spicy Penne all’Arrabbiata for a simple week night meal? With only a few simple ingredients and just 30 minutes, you can make this classic Italian pasta dish. Easy, quick & economical. Are you willing to take the heat?
By definition, arrabbiata means angry. Consider this: once you eat this pasta dish, the heat from the hot chili peppers will make your face turn red, just as you would if you were angry. There are some that believe that the reference is to the vibrant red color of the sauce, a color which is also associated with the emotion of anger. Either way, hot chili peppers are just one of the ingredients to make this dish.
It’s important to remember that because Italian cooking uses so few ingredients, the key to a great tasting dish is to use ingredients of superior quality. Let’s take a closer look at these 7 simple ingredients required to make this easy recipe for Spicy Penne all’Arrabbiata.
Simple Ingredient #1: The pasta. When it comes to choosing the pasta associated with this traditional Roman dish, you must use pasta that has ridges. The classic, of course, is penne. Rigatoni would also make a good choice. The sauce is easily entrapped within the little groves of the pasta, so using a pasta with ridges will make it easier to scoop up more sauce with every bite. If you are trying to increase the fiber in your diet, I would recommend choosing whole wheat penne (or rigatoni).
Simple Ingredient #2: The garlic. There is nothing like fresh garlic. I am very fortunate to grow my very own garlic in my backyard (I have my Dad to thank for that). When I peel away the layers of my garlic, I always end up with sticky fingers – a definite sign of freshness. And I’m so happy that my garlic has already surfaced from the spring’s thaw! When purchasing garlic, make sure that there are no sprouts; that the outer skin is papery thin; and that the bulb is firm when you give it a squeeze. If you are a lover of garlic, you can always add an extra clove or two to the recipe.
Simple Ingredient #3: The tomatoes. The base for so many great pasta sauces. I will always use fresh tomatoes in the summer (roma or san marzano with skins removed, seeded and chopped); and canned in the winter (whole and peeled). In my household, we prefer little chunks of tomatoes in the sauce, so we just chop up the tomatoes into small cubes. As they are cooking, they will soften and it becomes easy to crush them even further with the back of a spoon or a fork. If you prefer a smoother sauce, you can pureé the tomatoes instead.
Simple Ingredient #4: Pecorino Romano Cheese. “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” History suggests that the Romans used Pecorino Romano Cheese in their beloved recipe for spicy penne all’Arabbiatta. And so, I must recommend that you use this cheese. Please note that if you are in a pinch, you can definitely use Parmesan cheese – just don’t tell a Roman 🙂
Simple Ingredient#5: The hot chili peppers, aka peperoncino. The source of the heat. The first thing you should know is that you can add as little or as much of the hot chili peppers that you can tolerate. You can easily replace the peppers with crushed red pepper flakes. Once again, let your personal tolerance of heat be your guide as to the amount which should be added. Remember, a little goes a long way with these guys.
Simple Ingredient #6: The olive oil. An essential ingredient for Italian cuisine. Because it is a monounsaturated fat, olive oil is considered a “healthy fat.” It is also a great source of antioxidants. However, it is a calorie dense food. So take out those measuring spoons because it’s so easy to drizzle away hundreds of calories on a plate of pasta.
Simple Ingredient #7: The flat-leaf parsley. This herb is a staple in so many Italian dishes. Not only does it provide a wonderful splash of color, it also contributes a pungent taste which is essential if you are trying to create a balance of flavors in your dish. Whenever possible, fresh is definitely better, and don’t even consider using the curly kind.
And there you have it… just 7 simple ingredients in this quick, easy and economical recipe for this Spicy Penne all’Arrabbiata.
Origin of the Recipe for Spicy Penne all’Arrabbiata:
Many years ago, my husband, Claudio, used to work in an Italian restaurant. He became friends with the chef, who originated from the eternal city of Rome. It was here that my husband adapted this recipe. After all these decades, this recipe for Spicy Penne all’Arrabbiata has become one of his signature dishes – a hearty, spicy primo piatto made with only 7 simple ingredients that comes together in less than 30 minutes. Easy, quick and economical.
And there you have it… what could be more satisfying than a plate of Spicy Penne all’Arrabbiata for your Sunday Supper? Are you willing to take the heat?
Spicy Penne all'Arrabbiata
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1-2 hot chili peppers peperoncini, thinly sliced ( or dried red chili powder-to taste)
- 14 oz tomatoes whole, peeled and canned or 8 roma tomatoes -about 2 cups or 1 pound)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 7 oz penne 2 cups
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley minced
- 2 tablespoons pecorino romano cheese freshly grated
- In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute or until fragrant (do not brown).
- Add the peperoncini and sauté for another minute or so.
- Add the tomatoes and simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
- Stir occasionally while crushing the tomatoes with the back of your spatula (you can add some pasta water if your sauce begins to stick to your saucepan).
- While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.
- Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for about 8 minutes or until al dente.
- Drain the pasta.
- Add the pasta to the sauce.
- Toss to combine.
- Serve immediately, garnished with parsley and cheese.
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Ciao for now,