This recipe is so simple that you will be more than surprised with the final result. Those of you who like spicy food will love pasta arrabiata with its chilli, garlic and tomatoes. This dish will make the blood in your veins flow that little bit faster, while also turning faces still pale from the winter a lovely shade of pink.Jump to Recipe
Spicy not annoyed
The arrabiata sauce is a Roman speciality and is one of the most famous dishes in Italy. Arrabbiato actually means “annoyed” – I’m sure you are wondering about the origin of this spicy dish. Let me try and explain: if a cook uses too much chilli, you will sit at the table with a red face, with tears in your eyes and an open mouth – as if you were really annoyed. Since everyone prefers a different amount of spiciness, if you are in a restaurant, talk to your waiter who will help you. Also, it can be helpful to experiment at home to find out how much chilli you like.
In theory, you can prepare arrabbiata with any type of pasta. But, in general, only short types of pasta, in which the sauce can gather easily, are acceptable. Connoisseurs prepare the arrabiata exclusively with penne rigate. You should avoid using onions, as their taste is too intense. Also, only use garlic to add some aroma to the sauce: crush the garlic, briefly fry it in oil and then remove it again. The tomatoes should either be fresh and sun-ripened or – perhaps better in our latitudes – pelati from the tin. But make sure the chilli pepper is fresh, dried chillies change their flavour.
From Northern Italy to Calabria
Nowadays, pasta arrabiata is often served with Parmesan in northern Italy, but for the Roman original, Pecorino Romano is essential. Only Pecorino Romano can harmonise perfectly with the spiciness of the chilli as well as the taste of the sauce. Roman tradition enriches the pasta by adding a handful of chopped parsley and a shot of olive oil. In the arrabiata sauce from Calabria, two anchovy fillets, finely sliced green and black olives as well as capers are added. Purists may turn up their nose at this – but my family loves this slightly salty variation.
The first-aid dessert
If the chili is a little too spicy, don't worry - there are effective ways to deal with this. First, don't drink water! This will just spread the capsaicin of the chilli pepper, which is responsible for the “hot” sensation. The fat in milk, cream or yoghurt, for example in sweet milk dishes like panna cotta or tiramisu, can work wonders. Cheese also has a soothing effect as the milk fat binds the capsaicin of the chilli. So when you're preparing penne arrabiata, you might as well think of a suitable dessert!
- 320 g Penne rigate
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 400 g pelati tomatoes
- 1 chilli pepper fresh
- 1 small bunch parsley
- 80 g Pecorino Romano, grated
Crush the garlic cloves with your fist. Heat the olive oil in a pan. Tilt the pan a little so that the garlic can “swim” in the oil. Once you can smell the oil and the garlic has a golden brown colour, remove the cloves immediately. Add the peeled, chopped tomatoes and slightly mash them with a fork. Cut the chilli into thin slices and add to the sauce. Depending on how hot they are and how spicy you like your food, either remove the seeds beforehand or cook them with the chilli.
Cook the sauce at low heat for 15-20 minutes. In the meantime, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil for the pasta. Cook the pasta until they are still very firm to the bite. Add a few spoonfuls of pasta water to the tomato juice of the sauce. This will give the sauce a creamy consistency and makes it stick even better to the pasta. Season the sauce with salt.
Strain the penne and immediately add to the sauce in the pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes so that the pasta fully absorbs the flavour of the sauce. Serve with grated Pecorino, chopped parsley and a shot of olive oil.