Penne all'Arrabbiata

Penne all'arrabbiata
Penne all'arrabbiata. imagenavi/Getty Images
  • 20 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins,
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Ratings (8)

Arrabbiata means "angry," and this classic pasta dish, originating in the Lazio region around Rome, gets its name from the spicy tomato sauce, made with garlic and red chile peppers. Some variations add basil, onions, or oregano, but the most basic is just olive oil, tomatoes, garlic, and chile pepper. You can adjust the spice level or amount of garlic (though don't overdo it), to taste, and you can use any short, tubular pasta, such as ziti, or long, thin strand pasta, such as spaghetti. 

In some parts of Italy, this same sauce is called "alla carrettiera," meaning "cart-driver's sauce."

This super-simple and quick pasta can be whipped up in little more time than it takes to boil the pasta, so it makes a great late-night snack or weeknight meal when you are tired and short on time and inspiration. 

[Edited by Danette St. Onge on April 24, 2016.]

What You'll Need

  • 1 pound (450 grams) penne pasta (or spaghetti, if you prefer)
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped (optional)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed, dried red pepper, or more, to taste, OR 1-2 fresh hot chile peppers, stemmed, seeded, and finely sliced
  • 2/3 pound (300 grams) peeled, seeded, and chopped plum tomatoes or a drained 1-pound can of tomatoes
  • 5-6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • fine sea salt, to taste
  • 1 1/4 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese, or, if you find it too sharp, 2/3 cup each of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino Romano, mixed

How to Make It

  1. Set a large pot of water to boil over high heat for the pasta.
  2. In a saucepan over medium heat, sauté the onion (if you are using it) and the garlic in half (2 tablespoons) of the oil, and when the mixture is fragrant and just barely golden, 2-3 minutes, add the fresh or dried chile pepper. Cook for another 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and lower the heat to low. Simmer, covered, while the pasta is cooking.
  1. In the meantime, cook the pasta in salted boiling water.
  2. When the pasta is al dente, drain it and return it to the pot.
  3. Check the seasoning of the sauce, stir the remaining oil into it together with the basil, pour it over the pasta, toss to cover evenly, and serve the pasta with the grated cheese on the side.
  4. Serve with a white wine from the Colli Albani, such as Fontana di Papa. A good secondo (main dish) to serve after this pasta primo would be Saltimbocca alla Romana.