I love hot pepper and spicy food. If the dish isn’t spicy, you can usually spot me taking bites out of a fresh or fried hot pepper in between bites of the dinner I am eating. Penne all’Arrabbiata is one of the spicy dishes I enjoy eating. The great thing about this dish is that you can adjust the spiciness to your taste!
Arrabbiatta sauce is a simple, spicy sauce that is made with just tomatoes, garlic and traditionally dried hot chili peppers. The word in Italian directly translates to “angry” and is used to name the dish specifically referring to the spiciness of the hot peppers used. That being said, if you do not like spicy food, you can greatly reduce the amount of hot peppers used in the sauce to just a pinch so that you just get a hint of spice throughout the dish. Or you can change up the type of pepper you use to one that is higher on the Scoville scale to make it even more spicy! I, myself, prefer to use a fresh hot pepper, specifically a Fresno chili pepper or dried chile de arbol peppers for this dish. But feel free to try it with other hot peppers to find your preferred taste.
I like to make my own fresh passata when making this dish as well. This will make the recipe take a little longer, but getting to make the sauce exactly how you like it is worth it in the end. To make my passata, I like to mix in a sliced garlic clove and a handful of parsley stems fried in a little bit of olive oil. If you prefer a more garlicky flavor to your sauce, add in more garlic! Cooking this with the tomatoes and passing it all together through the food mill allows the flavor to be absorbed into the sauce. This will be the base of your sauce before adding in more ingredients to enhance the flavor even further.
- 8 oz. Penne
- 6 Plum tomatoes halved and deseeded
- 6 Garlic cloves
- 1/2 Fresh hot pepper or tablespoon of crushed red pepper (depends on your heat tolerance)
- Handful of parsley Stems removed, and saved. Leaves chopped finely.
- Olive oil extra virgin
- Sea Salt and Black Pepper to taste
- Begin by slicing one garlic clove. Add a drizzle of olive oil into a pot and heat over medium heat. Once heated, add in the garlic slices and the parsley stems. Sauté for a minute and then add in the tomatoes. Continue to cook for about fifteen minutes until the tomatoes have broken down into a sauce over medium to low heat, making sure to stir occasionally.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil to be used to cook the penne later.
- Pour the tomatoes into a food mill to further break down the tomatoes and only keep the passata or tomato sauce for the next step. Season the tomato passata with sea salt and black pepper.
- Thinly slice the rest of the garlic cloves and the fresh hot pepper. Add a drizzle of olive oil into a large frying pan and sauté the garlic and hot pepper over medium to low heat for about three minutes, allowing the garlic to tenderize without turning golden brown.
- Pour the tomato passata into the frying pan and simmer for at least fifteen minutes. Cooking it longer will give it even more flavor.
- After about five minutes of cooking the arrabbiata sauce, add the penne into the pot of salted water and cook for two minutes less than the package instructions or al dente.
- Meanwhile, chop the parsley. Two minutes before the arrabbiata sauce is ready, add in parsley and mix together.
- Scoop the penne directly into the arrabbiata sauce pan. Pour in half a ladleful of the pasta water and finish cooking the penne in the sauce over low heat for another three minutes until the sauce has thickened.
- Remove from the stove and serve with a sprinkle of freshly chopped parsley and pecorino cheese. Enjoy!