A local dish of the Lazio region, arrabbiata is a spicy pasta sauce that takes its name from its angry red colour and hot, fiery flavour.
Using just tomatoes, garlic, parsley and, of course, red chili pepper, the simplicity and speed of the preparation makes it a popular recipe to prepare at home.
The heat of the sauce depends on personal taste and the spiciness of the chili used. It is best to start with one or two then taste towards the end of cooking and add more if needed; it’s always easier to add more heat than take it away.
The parsley will balance out the piquant, garlicky flavours so add a few stalks to the pan at the start, along with the garlic and chili, to bring extra fragrance and freshness to the finished dish.
While arrabbiata can be served with spaghetti, the traditional recipe calls for penne; it’s up to you whether you opt for the ridged penne rigate or the smooth (often underappreciated) penne lisce.
Penne all’Arrabbiata recipe
200g penne (lisce or rigate)
400g tin of polpa di pomodoro
2 medium cloves garlic
Fresh red chili (at least one)
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Bunch of fresh parsley
Peel and thinly slice the garlic, finely chop the chili and add both to a frying pan with the olive oil, a pinch of salt and a few parsley stalks.
Cook on a high flame for about 3 minutes then add the tomatoes, fill the tin halfway with water and pour this in too. Add a little more salt and continue to cook over a medium heat for 15
minutes, stirring occasionally.
In the meantime, cook the pasta in salted boiling water for the time indicated. A couple of minutes before the end of cooking time add some chopped parsley leaves to the sauce then drain the pasta, combine well with the sauce and serve.
Recipe by Kate Zagorski
Kate Zagorski has lived in Italy since 2000. Married to a food-obsessed Roman chef, she leads food tours and also works as a freelance food and travel writer. For more of her recipes see Wanted in Rome recipe page.